South Africa make quick work of Bangladesh
When it's the bold brush strokes of a flamboyant dasher like Herschelle Gibbs, watching the paint dry isn't quite as boring as it's made out to be. An emphatic display from the South Africans saw them reach the victory target of 109 in just 12 overs to collect four more easy points from their mis-match against Bangladesh at Bloemfontein.
With debate raging over the omission of ace paceman Allan Donald, South Africa could not afford to slip up when the match got underway. Well, they didn't as Bangladesh never really gave the home side a chance to make a mistake. With Monde Zondeki coming in for Donald, Andrew Hall taking Graeme Smith's place and Robin Peterson getting an outing in place of Nicky Boje, South Africa had no hesitation in putting Bangladesh in when they won the toss.
There was no joy whatsoever for the Bangladeshis who are fast becoming the whipping boys of this tournament. Having lost even to Canada, there was little way for Bangladesh to heap fresh disgrace on themselves.
Al-Sahariar set the Proteas fast bowlers on their way, losing his wicket before he could get off the mark.
Makhaya Ntini then struck, having Mohammad Ashraful (6) caught behind. Next, Pollock accounted for Ehsanul Haq and Bangladesh were down in the dumps at 21/3.
Andrew Hall coming into the playing eleven for the first time in this tournament proved his utility straightaway, picking up a wicket with his second delivery. Bowling a good line, Hall tempted batsmen to drive and just a touch of movement was enough to induce edges. Sanwar Hossain, who looked promising for 11 that included one boundary, fell to Hall's tidy bowling, edging to Jacques Kallis.
The constant fall of wickets did nothing to help the Bangladeshi cause. The arrival of fresh legs in the form of Monde Zondeki encouraged the home side. Despite being a bit wayward, Zondeki's whippy action helped beat the batsmen for pace. If he had bowled a fuller length, the youngster playing in just his second ODI would certainly have better results to show for his effort. In any case, Zondeki removed the dangerous Alok Kapali, caught well by Boeta Dippenaar in the slips and Bangladesh had slipped further towards ruin at 33/5.
Eventually, Bangladesh were shot out for a mere 108 in 35.1 overs. The hard hitting of Khaled Mashud and Khaled Mahmud helped Bangladesh avert utter humiliation but was not enough to take them to a respectable total.
Skipper Khaled Mashud struck three boundaries in his 67-ball stay at the wicket that earned him 29 runs. Mashud was the top-scorer of the Bangladesh innings.
The shot of the Bangladesh innings, however, came from the free-stroking Mahmud, who lofted Robin Peterson over long on for the only six of the innings. In 35 balls, Mahmud contributed 23.
With no other batsman reaching 20, extras was the next highest scorer on 20. For South Africa, Makhaya Ntini was the most successful bowler, picking up 4/24 from 7.1 overs of intense medium-pace bowling.
With just 109 needed for an amble to victory, South Africa got off to a brisk start.
Nine overs were possible before the scheduled lunch break was taken. In those 54 balls, the South African opening pair of Gibbs and Gary Kirsten clattered 75 runs at a run-rate of 8.33. The openers in their contrasting styles and strengths achieved the same results, scoring 34 each with seven boundaries apiece.
Just 34 more runs were required after the resumption of play and there were no frights at all. Only three more overs were required, and no more wickets lost, as South Africa breezed to victory with 38 overs to spare.
In putting up an opening partnership of 109, the Gibbs-Kirsten pair became the third most prolific in the game with nine century opening stands. They are now behind the Sachin Tendulkar-Sourav Ganguly (17 century stands) pairing and the legendary pair of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, who managed to reach three figures together on 12 occasions.
Gibbs (49 not out) and Kirsten (52 not out) barely broke into a sweat in the process.
But then again, which of the South Africans were made to sweat in this one-sided game?
Anand Vasu is a former associate editor at Cricinfo