Amidst all the political tension and turmoil surrounding the team, South Africa have managed to stay right on course for the semi-finals berth. They will take on Bangladesh in a crucial Group 1 match of the Super 12s in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, November 2.
Temba Bavuma has led the South African side admirably well as they sit at the second place in the Group 1 points table with four points and a net run-rate of +0.210. South Africa suffered a close loss in the last over in their opening game of the tournament against Australia but bounced back well to defeat the West Indies by eight wickets. In the last game against Sri Lanka, they chased down 143 by four wickets to spare in a last-over thriller at Sharjah.
Bangladesh have suffered three losses out of three games in the Super 12s after showing great fightback in Round One. They lost to Sri Lanka by five wickets even after posting 171 on the board at Sharjah before England hammered them by eight wickets at Abu Dhabi. Needing 33 off 24 balls in the last game, Bangladesh lost to Windies by three runs in a close contest.
Bangladesh are out of the semi-finals contention, but they have a chance to be party spoilers in their last two games. On the other hand, South Africa needs to win this match to increase their chances of advancing through.
Aiden Markram has been a revelation in the shortest format of the game with remarkable improvement in the last year or so. The right-hand batter has been exceptional for South Africa in the middle order, having scored 518 runs in 14 innings this year at an average of 43.16 while striking at a superb rate of 146.32, including five half centuries. Markram has scored 40, 51* and 19 in the three games of this tournament so far and will be a key player against Bangladesh at Abu Dhabi.
Anrich Nortje has been sensational in the T20 format in the last couple of years. One of the fastest pacers in the world, Nortje troubles the batters with his hard lengths. He has 79 wickets in T20 cricket at an economy of 7.25 with the best of 4/19. The speedster has been magnificent this tournament, picking 2/21, 1/14 and 2/27 in three matches. He will be a key factor against a vulnerable Bangladesh batting unit.
Mushfiqur Rahim has been one of the central figures in Bangladesh’s rise in international cricket. He is amongst the best middle-order batters in limited overs cricket. Mushfiqur has 4737 runs in overall T20 cricket at an average of 29.06 while striking at 126.21, including 28 fifties.
Rahim’s ability to play spin and manoeuvre pace makes him a key player against South Africa. He scored a brilliant 57* off 37 against Sri Lanka in the opening game of the Super 12s. Bangladesh will need a similar batting performance from him.
Tabraiz Shamsi has turned things around in the last few years to become one of the best spinners in world cricket. The left-arm wrist spinner has terrific control and variations up his sleeve to bamboozle batters. The world no. 1 ranked T20I bowler has picked 32 wickets in 20 games this year at an exceptional economy of 5.73 rpo. Shamsi is coming fresh off an excellent 3/17 against Sri Lanka in the last game.
The head to head record between these two teams is pretty one-sided, with South Africa defeating Bangladesh in all six matches they’ve competed in. But they haven’t faced each other in four years, and the two sides are completely different now so there’s not much relevance to those numbers.
South Africa have issues regarding their batting unit, with too many top order batters batting out of position. Heinrich Klaasen for Reeza Hendricks is a move they could well try. David Miller’s match-winning 23* off 13 should give them confidence in the lower middle order. The bowling department has been pretty solid, but the death overs bowling remains a concern.
Bangladesh are further weakened with the star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan getting ruled out of the tournament. Their batting has been shaky and now will be dependent on Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah.
The bowling attack has looked good but can be taken apart on a better surface. Expect South Africa, who are a better all-round team, to claim a victory, but Bangladesh could still spring a surprise if they field first.