South Africa v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Bloemfontein, 2nd day November 20, 2008

Bangladesh crumble to South Africa's pace

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Bangladesh 153 (Rahim 48, Ntini 3-20) and 20 for 1 (Iqbal 5*, Siddique 7*) trail South Africa 441 for 9 dec (Smith 157, Amla 112, Prince 59*, Shakib 5-130) by 268 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary


Dale Steyn caused Bangladesh plenty of problems as the visitors subsided © Getty Images
 

At a time when Test cricket is fighting to maintain its credibility and relevance it needs some cracking matches to maintain interest. Brisbane may yet provide a tonic, Bloemfontein certainly won't. Bangladesh, after improving with the ball, were predictably blown away for 153 by South Africa's pace attack and are already one down in the follow-on after debutant Imrul Kayes fell for the second time in the day.

What makes Bangladesh's collapse an even greater pity is that for half the day they had fought back impressively to reduce South Africa from 327 for 1 to 441. Shakib-Al-Hasan, who claimed 7 for 36 against New Zealand last month, took another five-wicket haul to work through the lower order but, as against New Zealand, Bangladesh's resurgence was an illusion and this time the false impression was even greater.

Bangladesh may seem a minor player in cricket's bigger picture, but the reality is they have played a significant number of Tests. Even taking into account the exodus to the ICL and a young team it doesn't excuse repeated failings. Some players, such as Mohammad Ashraful, should know better than driving at wide half volleys but don't seem to learn from their previous mistakes. When it comes to describing a Bangladesh batting collapse nothing much has changed - they can't play pace, don't like bounce and have poor shot selection. A scoring rate of four-an-over is pointless if a side is all out in under 37 overs.

Mushfiqur Rahim showed his team-mates what a little composure and a tight technique can achieve - just as he did at Lord's, in 2005, when he debuted aged 16 against a powerful England attack - playing neatly to reach 48 before being trapped lbw by Jacques Kallis. Rahim was later officially reprimanded by match referee Alan Hurst for looking at and touching the edge of his bat as he left the crease.

Graeme Smith was clearly keen to give all his attack a run-out, but the last two wickets added 65 to suggest that South Africa lost their focus a little, which is easy to do when the opposition aren't providing a major test.

The life extracted by the South African quicks showed the surface isn't a featherbed. The fact that Bangladesh removed eight South Africa wickets for 114 was commendable, but reinforced how they had underperformed on the opening day as Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla piled up centuries. If Mahbubul Alam, a young honest seamer, could find useful swing with the new ball, then there was little doubt that Steyn would too. It didn't take long for Steyn to make an impression as he removed Tamim Iqbal's off stump before the batsmen knew what was happening. There are plenty more scalps on offer in the second innings.

Morne Morkel, unconvincing in the one-day series as he struggled with wides, started with a series of leg-side deliveries but, with the final ball of his opening over, got Junaid Siddique into a tangle with a shorter delivery and the leading edge lobbed to gully. However, Morkel's form continued to be a concern as he sprayed the ball either side of the stumps.

When pace gave away to spin Bangladesh still had problems. Paul Harris, operating with a broken thumb that prevented him batting, struck in his second over when Kayes lunged forward and was caught at short leg off the last ball before tea. It took just four balls after the break for another breakthrough as Ashraful, who has time and again spoken about batting more responsibly, drove loosely at a full ball from Steyn and edged into the slip cordon.

Makhaya Ntini added to the procession as he benefited from Shakib's loose cut, Mehrab Hossain's limp push and Naeem Islam's weak pull. The South African attack barely had to break sweat and it appeared almost an act of sympathy when Harris was reintroduced for a second spell, but it allowed Rahim to settle and at least save some face.

It's hard to judge how good South Africa's bowling was as they didn't have to be at the top of their game. However, one area that certainly underperformed was the middle order which wasted a chance to ram home the dominant batting display of the opening day. Smith, missing out on his third double-century against Bangladesh, and Amla were both defeated by early swing before Shakib worked his way through the rest.

As Shakib did his job either side of lunch, Ashwell Prince went about his business in a typically unfussy style and nurdled his way to an 80-ball half century. Occasionally he took the aggressive route, using his feet nicely against the spinners, but largely he was content to work the ball against a deep-set field. South Africa would have liked to dominate their way to a total of 500 but perhaps paid for a little overconfidence. In the end, though, it hardly mattered.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo