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On the Ball, SA v Ban, Guyana
The players believe in themselves
April 7, 2007
Bangladesh's victory against India wasn't a flash in the pan, and the win against SA drives that point home
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Series/Tournaments: ICC World Cup
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'If at all there was a great toss to lose, then today was the one; losing the toss created a perfect cricketing condition for Bangladesh to be at their best' © Getty Images

I have just witnessed another upset in this World Cup tournament. Bangladesh have beaten South Africa. This is their second major triumph after knocking India out of the Super Eights.

If at all, there was a great toss to lose, then today was the one. Habibul Bashar lost the toss, South Africa elected to bowl first on the presumption that the ball might just move at the start, and nobody could call that. It was a morning start, with slightly overcast conditions as well going into the day's play. But the ball did not move at all for the South African bowlers and the Bangladeshi batsmen batting at the top, like Javed Omar, were just looking to build up a partnership. The problem has been with the top order, so you could be a little more disciplined. We could see the top order a bit more disciplined by the way they played today.

But as the innings progressed, it turned out that there was nothing off the pitch for seam bowlers and slowly one by one, the likes of [Shaun] Pollock, [Charl] Langeveldt, [Makhaya] Ntini were just not looking as deadly as they were expected to be. Only Andre Nel made an impression. But the Bangladeshis developed their self confidence in batting. But Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Ashraful, two outstandingly talented young players - very unpredictable and as a result inconsistent as well - but today they played some really high-rated shots.

Aftab Ahmed played a superb innings. He didn't last long enough, but just got Bangladesh to believe in themselves more and then that man Ashraful took them apart in the last seven overs, where Bangladesh got in excess of 70 runs. Mashrafe Mortaza also came in and hit some vital runs. Some tremendous batting towards the end too, very good to watch.

Great improvisation by Ashraful, with the paddled sweep shot, the scoop shot that he played against the fast bowlers. So Bangladeshis got first use of the pitch, a good pitch. South Africa didn't have too many spinners in their ranks; they struggled to create too many variations for the Bangladeshi batsmen, having no spinner in the team. There was no warning that batting second could just be a little more difficult, and as it turned out once Bangladesh got 251 their self belief was firmly in place when they came out to bowl, and the pitch had changed from morning. It was a pitch that was just like they would play at home in Dhaka. It was a pitch that was slow, the balls were keeping low, some balls were turning, some balls which were intended to turn weren't turning, and South Africa against spinners are not the best team in the world, and Bangladesh have three left arm-spinners to exploit the conditions.

It was a perfect design, and things were really not in their control. So the toss that Graeme Smith won allowed Habibul Bashar to bat first. Bangladesh had also intended to bowl first, that was interesting. So losing the toss just created a perfect cricketing condition for Bangladesh to be at their best. They got first use of a good batting pitch and then later on when the pitch slowed down and the ball started keeping low, they were able to exploit the conditions. Credit to Bangladesh for using the conditions beautifully; they got 251 runs against a varied bowling attack of South Africa and used the conditions later on to win the game.

'South Africa, like India, were beaten by a better team on the day' © Getty Images

South Africa, like India, were beaten by a better team on the day. Bangladesh - in this tournament - the very striking aspect of their performance and their team is that they have more than one or two players who believe that they can take on a world class opposition. If at all Bangladesh weren't quite giving results in the past it was because there was that inherent deep- routed complex that they were not good enough to beat a world-class opposition. But now there are more and more players starting to believe that they can take on the South Africans, the Indians and New Zealanders and perhaps some of the top teams, with the exception of Australia.

Full marks to Bangladesh for another convincing win, another major triumph, which has also silenced some of the people who were starting to say that the win against India was a flash in the pan after the two easy losses they had to Australia and New Zealand. This win against South Africa proves that what happened against India from the Bangladeshis was not a flash in the pan. This is now a team that is creating a major upset at the more regular than before. So congratulations to Bangladesh, and South Africa - undefeated so far - have suffered their first loss against Bangladesh but still very much in contention to get into the semi-finals.

Former India batsman Sanjay Manjrekar is a cricket commentator and presenter on TV. @sanjaymanjrekar

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