Bangladesh v South Africa, 2nd ODI, Benoni November 8, 2008

Smith likely to return for second ODI

Cricinfo staff

If he plays, Graeme Smith will be returning to competitive cricket after more than two months © Getty Images

Graeme Smith, the South African captain, is likely to return to the side for the second ODI against Bangladesh on Sunday. Smith hasn't played any competitive cricket since August after a tennis elbow problem worsened during the tour of England.

"It's 99% certain he [Smith] will play on Sunday," said Johan Botha, South Africa's stand-in captain, who led them to a 61-run win in the first ODI in Potchefstroom. "I've really enjoyed the challenge [of captaincy]," he said. Obviously, we weren't playing the strongest teams, so that made it easier, but I still enjoyed it."

Dale Steyn, the South African fast bowler, recovered well from a month-long sinusitis problem to take 4 for 16 and though he was the Man of the Match for his performance, Steyn said he was not bowling at his peak. "With all respect to Bangladesh you don't want to be peaking at 150 [kph] or whatever against them. You want to be using it [top speed] against the top-playing nations like Australia or at your World Cups," Steyn said. "You want to be like these Olympic athletes who train for four years for one race." South Africa have two big series coming up against Australia away and at home over the next five months.

One positive for Bangladesh in the first game was their captain Mohammad Ashraful's return to form. In ten ODIs before coming to South Africa, Ashraful averaged 19.44 with one half-century - an unbeaten 60 against New Zealand in the only match that his side won in that period. His 88-run stand with Shakib Al Hasan (51) brought Bangladesh back in to the chase after the first four fell with 77 on the board. "Unfortunately we both got out at an important time. If you leave aside the last five overs where they made 66, I thought we bowled and fielded pretty well on a flat pitch. The wicket, the fast outfield, everything suited the chase. Two hundred and eighty-three might be a steep target but we went for a win and we'll have the same mentality in the next games also."

Ashraful said Bangladesh had been creating winning situations in every match since their last ODI against Australia in Darwin. "Remember that we have been playing the world's Nos 1, 2 and 3 over the last few months and they haven't found the going easy against us. The boys have really come together as a unit and there is great camaraderie. If we stay like this and keep pushing the opponents I'm sure we'll start to get results pretty soon."

Shakib said the visitors' attempt at the chase had made people realise that Bangladesh were ready for the challenges in South Africa and that their bowlers and pitches were not unplayabale. "Three batsmen in the top five made just four runs between them and that is where we badly suffered," Shakib said. "Usually when that happens you are almost out of the game. But I am confident that our batsmen will come good."

Tamim Iqbal, one of the top-order batsmen who was run out for 24, said getting to the 20s was the hardest part. "You need to concentrate the hardest at that time. I am doing that bit and then getting out when things should be easier."

After Benoni, the teams will move to East London for the final ODI on November 12 before playing two Tests later in the month.