A trip to Bangladesh, on the face of it an uninspiring prospect for the South Africans, took on major significance following their disastrous World Cup campaign. It offered a chance to lick wounds, regain confidence and knock into shape a new-look squad of inexperienced players, many of whom had not been traumatised by the debacle.
The fallout from South Africa's failure to reach the second stage of the tournament they hosted was dramatic. Graeme Smith, who had not even been selected in the original World Cup squad, replaced Shaun Pollock as captain and thus became the third-youngest Test captain of all time, at 22 years 82 days, behind the Nawab of Pataudi, junior, and Waqar Younis, whose exact age is in dispute. Allan Donald and Jonty Rhodes announced their retirement from the international stage and Lance Klusener was left out of the touring party. In addition, Jacques Kallis missed the tour on compassionate grounds due to his father's ill health.
The hosts were also starting over. Bangladesh's desperate World Cup campaign, in which they lost to both Canada and Kenya, also meant that change was inevitable. The captain Khaled Masud made way for Khaled Mahmud, and coach Mohsin Kamal for Sarwar Imran, a caretaker until Dav Whatmore could take over. With the terrifying prospect of a first Test tour to Australia on the horizon, they were in desperate need of improvement. Predictably, the two Test matches highlighted the massive gulf between the two sides.
South Africa's gifted young batsmen set records in the First Test at Chittagong - Jacques Rudolph, finally making a long-overdue Test debut, struck an unbeaten 222 and shared a stand of 429 with Boeta Dippenaar - and their bowlers showed tremendous stamina and discipline in the Second, which they ultimately won at a canter.
Match reports for
Final: India v South Africa at Dhaka, Apr 20, 2003