Bloemfontein: Having failed to take advantage of favourable first Test conditions, the Bangladesh batsmen have a chance to make amends against the least experienced bowling line-up South Africa have fielded in many years.
But conditions are likely to be more bowler-friendly in the second Test starting at the Mangaung Oval on Friday and, on the evidence of Potchefstroom, the tourists are ill-equipped to counter even a South African attack stripped of four front-line fast bowlers because of injury.
The withdrawal of experienced opener Tamim Iqbal due to a thigh injury only added to the visitors’ woes.
Morne Morkel could not finish the first Test because of a side strain, adding to a casualty list which includes Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Chris Morris.
It leaves Kagiso Rabada, 22, as the leader of the attack.
His tally of 92 wickets in 21 Tests dwarfs those of his likely pace partners, Duanne Olivier (13 in four Tests), Wayne Parnell (13 in five) and Andile Phehlukwayo, who took a single wicket in his debut appearance in Potchefstroom.
Balanced against that is the emergence of left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj, who is being hailed as South Africa’s best spin bowler of the modern era.
Maharaj picked up seven wickets in Potchefstroom to take his total to 50 in just 12 Tests.
Despite a convincing 333-run win in the first Test, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was unequivocal in calling for a pitch with more pace and bounce.
“When you play countries like Bangladesh it is important to get whatever you can (in conditions) to get an advantage,” he said.
Weather conditions, though, could play a role.
South Africa only recently emerged from winter and Bloemfontein, 280 kilometres (174 miles) from Potchefstroom, is similarly susceptible to cold overnight and early morning conditions which affect grass growth and pitch preparation.
In the only first-class match played at the Oval this season, 11 wickets fell on the first day, but only another nine went down while 1,010 runs were scored on the next three.
Bangladesh were dealt with a massive blow earlier on Wednesday after Iqbal was ruled out of the second Test due to a thigh muscle injury. Having lost out on the services of star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan for the tour earlier, Iqbal’s absence leaves the side without the services of their most experienced and accomplished batsman.
Bangladesh’s misreading of conditions in Potchefstroom was extraordinary for a team with an experienced player in captain Mushfiqur Rahim and a coaching staff headed by Sri Lankan Chandika Hathurusingha and former West Indian bowling great Courtney Walsh.
Not only did Rahim pass up the opportunity to bat first in ideal conditions after winning the toss, but Bangladesh picked only one spin bowler in Mehidy Hasan.
Their three seam bowlers, with the exception of left-armer Mustafizur Rahman, were largely ineffectual on an easy-pace pitch.
Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, whose 54 Test wickets are the most of any member of the touring squad, would probably have been more effective and may well be picked for Bloemfontein, even if conditions are not spin-friendly.
Published Date: Oct 05, 2017 02:12 pm | Updated Date: Oct 05, 2017 02:12 pm