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November 18, 2008
Match factsNovember 19-23, 2008
With every Test series Bangladesh play, the feeling of hope overrides expectation. As they showed in the two Tests against New Zealand last month, they can be effective in patches. It is their consistency, or rather lack of, which continues to blight their development - not to mention a clutch of players hot-footing it to the goldmine of the Indian Cricket League. With South Africa aiming to warm up and take on a chastened Australia next month, there will be no compromise from the hosts.
Bangladesh do have the potential to cause South Africa some difficulty, as they showed during their series in February when they reduced the visitors to 77 for 5. They even sneaked a first-innings lead of 22, with Shahadat Hossain picking up match figures of 9 for 97. He hit some form in the warm-up game against the South African Airways Challenge XI last week, too. However, it is Bangladesh's top-order which needs to fire.
Yet all the attention is on South Africa's preparation ahead of their series against Australia. Dale Steyn bowled with genuine pace in the one-dayers, while Morne Morkel - impressive in domestic matches - has also struggled with his accuracy. Now, however, is the time for this much-vaunted pairing to fire as a potent world force; a performance anything less than emphatic against Bangladesh, a side wary of hostile pace, will be a disappointment. Mickey Arthur has expressed his slight concern at the meagre build-up to the Australia series, so South Africa's batsmen must ensure they make the most of time in the middle against Bangladesh. Duncan Fletcher, who has been drafted into their coaching set-up, will make sure of that.
Form guide (last 5 Tests, most recent first)South Africa LWWDL
Watch out for
Mushfiqur Rahim - While most of Bangladesh's batsmen prefer attack as their first option, Rahim is a much calmer figure at the crease. His Test career hasn't taken off like many thought it would after a fighting debut at Lord's aged 16, but now is the time for him to fulfil the promise. Found form in the warm-up match with 89 and he can be the glue that holds the middle order together.
Shakib Al Hasan - The allrounder impressed in the Test series against New Zealand and is developing into a valuable player with bat and ball. Both his averages are heading in the right direction and he claimed Bangladesh's best innings figures of 7 for 36 against New Zealand last month. The South Africans have come unstuck against spin in the past and will have to be on their guard.
Jacques Kallis - After a lean tour of England, Kallis returned home and spent time with his mentor Duncan Fletcher. The runs flowed again in the recent ODIs and Kallis loves nothing more than feasting against weaker bowling attacks in friendly conditions.
Mashrafe Mortaza was rested in the practice game to allow more time to recover from a sore back. However, he bowled off a short run in the nets on Sunday and is receiving treatment from the physio to give Bangladesh hope. Sajedul Islam comes in to replace Syed Rasel who flies home today with injury while Abdur Razzaq, the left-arm spinner, won't make it back from Australia where his action has been tested.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Imrul Kayes, 2 Tamim Iqbal, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 5 Mehrab Hossain junior, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Shakib Al Hasan, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza, 9 Raqibul Hasan, 10 Shahadat Hossain, 11 Mahbubul Alam.
South Africa have fewer concerns and, barring a late injury, ought to go into the Test with a full-strength side. Paul Harris is expected to retain his place, but is coming under increasing pressure from Johan Botha.
South Africa (probable) 1 Graeme Smith, 2 Neil McKenzie, 3 Hashim Amla, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Ashwell Prince, 7 Mark Boucher (wk), 8 Paul Harris, 9 Morne Morkel, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Makhaya Ntini.
Pitch and conditionsBangladesh may be up against it over the next five days, but at least the pitch appears to be on their side. Last week, Martin van Jaarsveld cracked 132 from 96 balls as the Titans chased down 335 to beat Eagles in South Africa's domestic one-day competition. Boeta Dippenaar, a man not renowned for electric scoring, made 71 from just 45 balls. There are runs aplenty on offer.
Stats and Trivia
"The six days before the first test in Australia are still going to be the most crucial in terms of preparation, but I would like to see us having real control against Bangladesh and playing in the sort of style we want to against Australia."
Graeme Smith wants his team to lay down a few markers
"If our batsmen can see out the first session then there will be opportunities to score and it will become easier to bat. We have worked hard at negotiating the short balls and in the two ODIs I thought the batters handled them pretty well."
Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons puts faith in his batsmen
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Graeme Smith was the last of South Africa's old guard. The roots of the new one need to grow deeper