Bangladesh's tour of South Africa is coming full circle with the two T20s being played at the same venues as the two Tests that started their visit a month ago. Rather than returning to the scenes of pleasant memories of progression, Bangladesh are going back to places they may be wishing they had never gone to.
They arrived in South Africa with high hopes of proving they had become a team that can compete away from home, if not as well as they do at home, then at least adequately. They succumbed to extra pace and the short ball, even though pitches were far more placid than they usually are. Had Bangladesh simply played what was in front of them, rather than what they had in their heads, they may have had more to show for their efforts so far.
The shortest format may present the best opportunity for them to simply play, with no preconceived ideas of what to expect from conditions or opposition especially as South Africa's attack has grown more depleted as the series has gone on. Morne Morkel was injured in the first Test, Wayne Parnell ahead of the ODIs and Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir have been rested for the T20s.
As a result, South Africa have been able to use this series to experiment and for new coach Ottis Gibson to see several players at the highest level. He will now get the chance to have a look at a few more. Left-arm seamer Beuran Hendrucks, spinners Aaron Phangiso and Tabraiz Shamsi and allrounder Robbie Frylinck come into the mix. Though it is difficult for South Africa to accurately judge their strength on the basis of this series, at least the depth does not appear to be as lacking as it seemed.
South Africa: LWLWL
Bangladesh: : WLLLL
In the spotlight
Since his Test retirement, JP Duminy has been given greater responsibility in the shorter formats. He led a CSA Invitation side against Bangladesh in a fifty-over match earlier in the tour and will now take charge of the team for the two T20s in the absence of Faf du Plessis. Duminy did not have much opportunity in the middle in the ODIs but with du Plessis injured, he may bat a little higher and could cash in over the next two matches.
After opting out of the Tests and making a small impact in the ODIs with one half-century Shakib Al Hasan will become Bangladesh's third captain of the tour as he takes the reins for the T20s. While Bangladesh will need more than just a solid performance from him to turn their fortunes around, something substantial from Shakib, be it runs, wickets or a stern team talk, won't go amiss in a change room that is desperate for positivity.
In the absence of du Plessis, South Africa will have a slightly shortened batting line-up, more so if David Miller is unfit for selection. That may have its merits, because it could allow Andile Phehlukwayo to display his much-vaunted finishing skills. Robbie Frylinck could make his debut and lead an inexperienced pack.
South Africa (probable): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Hashim Amla, 3 AB de Villiers, 4 JP Duminy (capt), 6 David Miller/Mangaliso Mosehle, 7 Andile Phehlukwayo, 8 Robbie Frylinck, 9 Dane Paterson, 10 Beuran Hendricks, 11 Aaron Phangiso/Tabraiz Shamsi
Bangladesh will have three changes in their line-up from their last T20, in April. Mashrafe Mortaza has retired from the format while Mosaddek Hossain (eye infection) and Mustafizur Rahman (ankle) are out with injuries. From the current squad, either Liton Das or Nasir Hossain will bat at No. 7 while Shafiul Islam is likely to be picked ahead of Taskin Ahmed.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Imrul Kayes, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Mushfiqur Rahim(wk), 6 Mahmudullah 7 Liton Das/Nasir Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain
Pitch and conditions
In keeping with the early-season trend, the surface is not expected to offer much for bowlers, though Bloemfontein has had some rain since the series first visited it earlier in the month. The ground's new lights, which were switched on for the first time during the Test, will be in use for this match.
Stats and trivia
South Africa and Bangladesh have only played four T20s against each other. Bangladesh have lost them all.
There has only been one T20 international in Bloemfontein before, between South Africa and Zimbabwe in 2010. The hosts had chased down a target of 169 with 4.1 overs to spare.
"It could be a dangerous thing - in that they have nothing to lose. Or they could have one foot on the plane already and want to go home."
JP Duminy on Bangladesh
"I think it is such a short format that we don't have much time to think about things, which is to our advantage. In Tests and ODIs there's a lot of time to think, which leads to a lot of complicated thinking. If everyone can keep things simple, we can leave with a good performance."
Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan