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News

Tamim backs out-of-form Mahmudullah and wants Afif to remain at No. 7

Kagiso Rabada, meanwhile, was pleased with the extra pace and bounce on offer at the Wanderers

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
20-Mar-2022
Afif Hossain plays one on the onside, South Africa vs Bangladesh, 2nd ODI, Johannesburg, March 20, 2022

'Afif is batting really well at No 7. If I bring him up to No 6, then we will be asked who will bat at No 7' - Tamim Iqbal  •  AFP/Getty Images

South Africa bowled well with the new ball in both the Centurion ODI on Friday, and at the Wanderers on Sunday. But where Bangladesh's openers weathered their initial spells and put on 95 in Centurion, South Africa's fast bowlers ripped through the top order on Sunday. Kagiso Rabada, who picked up 5 for 39, his best figures in a home ODI, suggested that the extra pace and bounce at the Wanderers was behind the fast bowlers' greater success here.
"I guess the Wanderers was good to us," Rabada said. "There was a bit more with the new ball in this game. There's generally more bounce at the Wanderers. I think the cracks came into play initially. Once the ball gets older, it is better to bat.
"I thought we bowled very well in the first ten overs of the previous game. Unfortunately, we couldn't get a breakthrough. Playing at the Highveld, you are almost guaranteed to speed up. You score quicker once you are in."
Tamim Iqbal was the first wicket to fall followed by four more within the first 13 overs. Tamim felt that the big difference between the first two ODIs was the uneven bounce on Sunday, but he still backed his decision to bat first after winning the toss, as he based his decision on the big-scoring history of sides batting first at the Wanderers. Tamim was himself a victim of uneven bounce, with Lungi Ngidi finding extra bounce to have the Bangladesh captain caught off his thumb.
"We knew there would be pace and bounce on South African pitches, but there was uneven bounce today if you look at my wicket," Tamim said. "There was uneven bounce in the second innings too. It is hard to predict if there's going to be uneven bounce. I think this was my second game here in 15 years. We also have to rely on the statistics. If you look at the numbers, teams have batted first and scored big in this ground."
Rabada said Bangladesh's unfamiliarity with these conditions made their batters' life harder.
"You generally want to use the extra bounce and extra pace at the Wanderers." he said. "I don't know if I should be surprised [at how they got out]. You are not going to rock up and just expect to bounce out teams. You will use that tactic to the best of your ability.
"I guess the talk is that subcontinent teams wouldn't be able to deal with the extra bounce as well as we would. We have grown up and played here. Vice versa, if you go to the subcontinent, they are well-prepared to play in their conditions. That's the beauty of cricket when you consider conditions. It plays a huge role. At home, we will try to exploit what we know we can exploit. I am glad to say that it worked. Players generally play multiple conditions rather well but conditions will always favour for the home side."
Tamim said Bangladesh could have still reached a total of around 240 or 250 if the likes of Yasir Ali and Mushfiqur Rahim had held on for a little longer.
"I thought 240-250 would have been a good total. The wicket was turning from one end, from where [Mehidy Hasan] Miraz and [Tabraiz] Shamsi bowled most of their overs. I thought [Yasir] Rabbi's wicket was costly as it would have been the last ball of Rabada's [first] spell. He bowled another over.
"Small things make a big difference. If we could have taken our innings a bit deeper with that [Yasir-Mushfiqur] partnership, we could have made 240-250. The way Afif [Hossain] and Miraz batted, it showed there was room to score plenty of runs against their bowling in the middle overs. We knew that they would come hard at us with the new ball. We did it very well in the first innings by not giving away anything. That's why we capitalised in the middle overs. Today, the situation was different: we lost too many wickets up front. There weren't enough batsmen to capitalise in the middle."
One of the concerns for Bangladesh is Mahmudullah's form over his last three ODI series, in which he has made 152 runs at an average of 25.33 and a strike-rate of 66.67. Tamim said he still believes Mahmudullah is the right man at No. 6, and wants Afif, who has made two fifties in his last five games, to remain at No 7.
"I think Riyad bhai is a very important part of this ODI team," Tamim said. "Neither me, the team management nor selectors are thinking about [dropping] him.
"Afif is batting really well at No 7. If I bring him up to No 6, then we will be asked who will bat at No 7. We took a long time to find a good No 7 who will finish games and score runs in the end overs. I think Afif is the right guy [at No 7]. The sort of batting he does, the day he scores runs it will take us to a winning position."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84