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The Bulletin by Kanishkaa Balachandran
March 14, 2008
A comprehensive all-round rout of Bangladesh in the third and final one-dayer in Mirpur not only sealed a 3-0 series win for South Africa but also propelled them to the top of the ICC one-day rankings, displacing Australia. South Africa were handed the victory on a platter after another tepid batting display by Bangladesh, who folded up for a paltry 143. Bangladesh's trio of left-arm spinners made the South African batsmen work hard for the runs, but yet again, they just didn't have the cushion of runs to work with.
Bangladesh were let down once more by their batsmen, who persisted with their strategy of freeing their arms during the Powerplays, and refused to buckle down and build an innings while wickets fell in quick succession. Despite winning the toss in all three games, not once did they even come close to posting 200.
Albie Morkel, the wrecker-in-chief with 4 for 29, started the top-order slide, while the offspinner Johan Botha chipped in with three wickets to hasten Bangladesh's surrender in the end.
The openers, Tamim Iqbal and Shahriar Nafees, showed little intention of seeing off the new ball and were beaten for pace on several occasions. Tamim fell to a poor decision, given out caught behind when the bat had only made contact with pad, but the manner in which swished and poked during his short stay inspired no confidence. Nafees fell after getting a start, edging to the keeper after Morne Morkel cramped him for room from round the wicket.
At 41 for 2 and with plenty of overs left, Ashraful had another golden opportunity to play himself in and set the example for the rest. Instead, he seemed desperate to hit his way out of a barren run - his last five innings have fetched him 36 - as he attempted one pull too many and fell rather tamely to Albie, handing an easy catch to Hashim Amla at mid-on.
Nazimuddin's wicket was gift-wrapped for Albie as the batsman walked across his stumps and tried to slog a good length delivery across the line. Botha then got into the act, beating Shakib Al Hasan in flight, before a run-out sent back Raqibul Hasan.
There were no meaningful partnerships to keep South Africa at bay as the spinners - Botha and Paul Harris - choked the runs and chipped in with the wickets. Albie returned to claim Mashrafe Mortaza, his fourth wicket, before de Villiers rounded off a good day behind the stumps with his fifth victim, pouching Mosharaff Hossain off Botha.
With very few runs to defend, the Bangladesh captain Ashraful reverted to opening the bowling with Abdur Razzak, the left-arm spinner, who kept the openers guessing and also tested the patience of Herschelle Gibbs, who fell to a back-foot punch to cover.
Razzak and Shakib, bowling in tandem, regularly landed the ball on the rough outside the left-handers' offstump, getting it to turn sharply. Razzak also got one to kick up alarmingly off a good length to square up Alviro Petersen outside off. Petersen, promoted to No.3, showed plenty of patience against the spinners, but he made just 24 from 54 deliveries before falling lbw when playing forward to an arm ball by Hossain. That gave Hossain his first ODI wicket. Smith's attempt to tuck the spinners for runs on the leg side were often intercepted by the infield, but with the target so meagre, the asking rate was never a worry.
A dull chase lit up once de Villiers walked in and pounded Hossain for two fours over midwicket before caressing Farhad Reza with a square drive past point. Razzak, after a miserly opening spell, came in for some punishment from de Villiers, who improvised superbly. The fifty partnership came off just 58 balls and de Villiers had all but sealed the deal when Reza broke through his defences.
Smith helped himself to his 36th ODI fifty to end the tour on a high for the team and for himself. The quality of opposition was hardly top-class, but South Africa can take plenty of confidence from the manner in which they won every international match on tour. Their next tour - to India - is likely to be a much tougher test, and will probably offer the team a truer indication of their skills in the subcontinent.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a staff writer at CricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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