South Africa vs Bangladesh: Can the World Cup debutants punch above their weight?

Kalyani Mangale
04 Mar 2022
South Africa vs Bangladesh: Can the World Cup debutants punch above their weight?

South Africa and Bangladesh © Getty Images

The last time Bangladesh registered a win against South Africa in the ODI format in 2012, seamer Ayabonga Khaka, and captain Sune Luus made their debuts. Since then, Khaka and Luus have played 73 and 92 ODIs for their country. Meanwhile, Rumana Ahmed, Bangladesh’s most capped player has only played 36 matches since then. If we look at the experience side, the clash between these two sides looks stacked in favor of South Africa but expect Bangladesh to punch above their weight.

South Africa will miss the services of the 2021 ICC Women's ODI Cricketer of the Year, Lizelle Lee, as she is currently in mandatory pre-tournament quarantine. She missed the home series against West Indies due to recovery from COVID-19. South Africa were still able to win the series 2-1 with contributions from Laura Wolvaardt and captain Sune Luus with the bat. Wolvaardt scored her third international century in the third ODI of the series, while Luus chipped in with 155 runs in the series.

Luus will lead the side in the absence of regular captain Dane van Niekerk, who is missing out because of an ankle injury. Her leadership qualities were crucial in the bilateral series along with her batting. The team management trusted Tazmin Brits to open in the series and she has only scored 95 runs across four innings. She also struggled in both the warm-up matches. In Lee’s absence, South Africa might want to give someone else a chance at that position.

The captain summed up her relation with the senior players in the pre-match Press Conference. "I have a couple of players around me - our vice-captain Chloe Tryon is always there giving some advice in my ear, and then I obviously go to Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail on the field, two of our most experienced players and our bowlers as well. So they are kind of the two that gives me the most advice on the field," she said.

The pace trio of Marizanne Kapp, Shabnim Ismail, and Khaka, together have 394 wickets amongst themselves and they will be crucial for South Africa throughout the tournament. Khaka is just four wickets away from becoming the fifth South African player to go past 100 ODI wickets. She would certainly like to get to the milestone in South Africa’s opening match of the tournament. Apart from the pace unit, they have the spin duo of Nonkululeko Mlaba and Luus, and lots of bowling depth to choose from.

Also Read: SWOT Analysis: Is this time for South Africa?

Bangladesh, on the other hand, haven't played an ODI since November 2021. Their inexperience could potentially hurt them in this tournament but they can start positively start against South Africa. Sharmin Akhter hit 81 off 137 against the quality England bowling attack in the warm-up game, while Fargana Hoque’s half-century took them very close to the target in the second warm-up match. Hoque has been their highest run-getter since 2017 and the team management will expect her to put up a fight against South Africa.

The 24-year-old Nigar Sultana will lead her side for the first time in the World Cup. She will also have the backing of former captains Ahmed and Salma Khatun. Ahmed is probably the most important player for Bangladesh as she is their all-time highest run-scorer and wicket-taker in this format. Ahmed was crucial in Bangladesh’s victory over Pakistan in the World Cup Qualifiers in 2021 and she would like to repeat her performance against South Africa.

Sultana was confident with her plans against the No. 2 ranked ODI side. "Actually, we have played against South Africa many times, so we knew their strength, and we played against their fast bowlers. So we have some ideas about them. And obviously, we do some homework against them. And we wanted to go with our plan that we could execute on the match," she said.

The pace unit led by Jahanara Alam and Ritu Moni is the strength of Bangladesh. Moni took a three-wicket haul against Pakistan in the warm-up game along with left-arm pacer Fariha Trisna. Left-arm spin wizard Nahida Akter found her groove against the defending champions in the warm-up game and she can trouble the South African batting order as well. Bangladesh have minimal experience in New Zealand conditions. So, it will be interesting to see how they play this historic match.

Predicted Playing XI: 

South Africa: Laura Wolvaardt, Tazmin Brits, Lara Goodall, Sune Luus (c), Mignon du Preez, Chloe Tryon, Marizanne Kapp, Trisha Chetty (wk), Shabnim Ismail, Nonkululeko Mlaba, Ayabonga Khaka

Bangladesh: Shamima Sultana, Sharmin Akhter, Fargana Hoque, Nigar Sultana (C, WK), Rumana Ahmed, Sobhana Mostary,  Salma Khatun, Ritu Moni, Murshida Katun, Jahanara Alam, Nahida Akhter

 

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