The North West Stadium became the eleventh South African Test venue as Bangladesh met South Africa in the second Castle Lager/MTN Test in Potchefstroom. Winning the toss Khaled Mashud had no hesitation in deciding to bat first on what looked to be a perfect batting strip.
His decision was ratified with a first wicket partnership of 52, in just 12 overs, between Hannan Sarkar and Al Sahariar when the latter got an inside edge into the pad that looped to third slip. Sahariar, again strong on the leg side, did not look happy as he departed for 30.
Sarkar, given chances at five and 26, became the second Bangladesh player to score a fifty against South Africa. He went on to surpass his previous highest score, with Bangladesh reaching lunch on a solid 124/1.
Whatever South Africa had at the interval, be it the food or a ressing down from the coach, paid dividends with three quick wickets in four overs after lunch.
Sarkar, caught at slip for 65, was followed by Sanwar Hossain without scoring, both falling victim to Makhaya Ntini. Habibul Bashar, who was involved in an 84-run partnership with Sarkar, edged Pollock for 40 and Bangladesh had gone from 136/1 to 140/4.
Wickets then fell at regular intervals. Debutant Rafiqul Islam was caught for six, Tushar Imran for eight, Tapash Baisya for two and Manjural Islam without scoring.
At the other end Alok Kapali was putting together a valuable little innings, playing defensively with a straight bat. The 18-year-old also drove well to take the visitors past the 200 mark.
As he gradually ran out of partners, Kapali played several wonderful shots, but he unfortunately ran out Talha Jubair without scoring, trying to keep the strike with three runs to Kirsten at third man. Kapali ended on an undefeated 38 and Bangladesh were 215 all out.
Ntini was once again the best South African bowler. Had it not been for three catches going down he would have ended the day with another five wicket haul. Numerous edges short of the slips ran away to the third man boundary, inflating his bowling figures. Mornantau Hayward and Jacques Kallis had indifferent spells before lunch, but improved as the day went on, while Shaun Pollock was his miserly self.
South Africa started their innings in typical fashion, with Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith attacking the Bangladesh bowling. Gibbs in particular showed his class and timing off the front and back foot, stroking eight boundaries in his 36.
Smith was first to perish, playing a lazy shot off the front foot, edging Sanwar Hossain's first ball to the keeper for 24. Five balls from the scheduled close, stumps were drawn with South Africa on 61/1. It was a day that Bangladesh will rue after they were in such a promising position at lunch.