South Africa all but batted Bangladesh out of the game after they piled on a massive score after choosing to bat first. While Mohammad Ashraful's brave resistance yielded a half-century and helped Bangladesh make a fist of it for a while, it was never going to be enough to alter the result. The gulf between the sides grew apparent as the required run-rate sprinted away from the scoring rate. The end, when it came in the 50th over, saw Bangladesh reach 211, well short of the required 295.
On a featherbed Dhaka wicket, South Africa stitched together their 294 for 3 against Bangladesh without so much as straining sinews. Their batting was a passage of play with few thrills - no batsman went after the bowling, no bowler caught the eye. Openers Herschelle Gibbs and Graeme Smith too provided a good start with minimum fuss. They took ones and twos at will and rarely missed out on opportunities to strike boundaries.
It was only in the 17th over that the opening stand of 112 was broken. Mohammad Rafique had Smith stumped, deceiving him with a gentle floater. Smith showed his disappointment, swinging his bat angrily and cursing himself for squandering a golden opportunity.
If Smith was unlucky to miss out, Gibbs was plain stupid to do so. Jacques Rudolph eased a slow delivery down to long off and set off briskly. With the single completed, the batsmen turned with plenty of time to make it two. But instead of running hard, Gibbs merely sauntered across, and a good throw from Javed Omar found the stumps via Alok Kapali. Gibbs' run-a-ball 62 came to a sorry end and South Africa had needlessly lost another wicket (133 for 2).
The removal of both openers with slightly more than 20 overs bowled gave Bangladesh a chance to put pressure on a South African middle order short of a batsman of the highest quality. With Jacques Rudolph and Boeta Dippenaar attempting to get set, the bowlers slipped in a few tight overs.
Try as they might though, they could not pick up wickets. Rudolph began to step up the scoring rate, motoring on to 44 off 45 balls, before a lapse in concentration cost him his wicket. He chopped hard at a short, wide ball from Rafique, but only managed a top edge to Tareq Aziz at short third man (189 for 3).
From there on, with wickets in hand, some South Africans would have looked at a 300-plus total. After all, India did exactly that against them yesterday. The logic was sound, barring the simple fact that Neil McKenzie (55*) could not strike the ball as freely as Dinesh Mongia, and Dippenaar (66*) could not pace his innings as well as Mohammad Kaif.
A largely charmless partnership of 105 runs in 111 balls took South Africa close to 300 though, and it was more than enough to send Bangladesh plummeting to a 34th successive ODI defeat.
Mohammad Ashraful kept the South African bowlers at bay for almost 30 overs, raising Bangladeshi hopes with an exuberant 52 - by far the top score for Bangladesh. Crisp strokes flew off his blade, most notably when the ball was dropped short. A range of pull shots - from the orthodox to the bizarre - saw him strike seven boundaries. It was Paul Adams who finally dismissed Ashraful, inducing an edge when he tried a flashy cut shot (112 for 4).
The fall of Ashraful marked the beginning of the end of Bangladesh's charge towards victory. Khaled Mahmud threw his bat around for 40, and aided by some uncharacteristically inept catching, he helped Bangladesh to bat out 49.1 overs. In the end though, Bangladesh finished adrift by 83 runs. Shaun Pollock, with 4 for 37, was easily the pick of the bowlers. Perhaps this will persuade Smith to open the bowling with Pollock in future games.