Bangladesh’s tour of South Africa draws to a close with a two-game Twenty20 series starting on Thursday at Bloemfontein’s Mangaung Oval, and concluding at Senwes Oval in Potchesfroom.
Hopes were high, but it has not been a happy tour for Bangladesh so far. The Tigers lost both tests to the Proteas at the same two stadiums that host these T20Is, as well as being swept 3-0 in the ODI series that followed. You would forgive them for having one eye on being Out of Africa as soon as they can – but as it tramsprires that the final leg of the tour is perhaps their best chance of taking something home with them back to Dhaka.
South Africa are without their multi-format captain Faf du Plessis, out for six weeks with an injury picked up in the final ODI, as well as a number of top bowlers who they chosen to rest. There is no Imran Tahir, no Morne Morkel and no Kagiso Rabada – although the batting is as daunting as ever with Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock joined by a rejuvenated and well-rested AB de Villiers.
Although Bangladesh are without Mustifizur Rahman and Tamim Iqbal, they are bouyed by the presence of the top ranked T20I all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who will be looking to make an impact as shortest format captain after a quiet ODI series and the two Tests that he chose to sit out.
Bangladesh have never beaten South Africa in four attempts in Twenty20 cricket, and are a lowly tenth in the ICC world rankings in the format, behind Afghanistan. However, South Africa are only ranked seventh themselves.
Plenty to play for for both sides then, and a few players will be looking at personal milestones too:
David Miller (South Africa)
Miller has scored 906 runs in his T20 career, including the games he played for the ICC World XI in the Indpenedence Cup in Pakistan earlier this year. He’ll be confident of becoming the fifth South African to notch up 1000 runs in the shortest format.
JP Duminy (South Africa)
The Proteas stand-in captain for this series is also his country’s leading T20I run-score with 1,683. This puts him in 9th place in the world, and Umar Akmal (1,690), David Warner (1,696) and Shoaib Malik (1,719) are well within his sights as he seeks to march up that particular ladder -although Malik will be playing this week in a three game series against Sri Lanka.
Shakib Al Hasan (Bangladesh)
The Tigers’ captain is also his country’s joint highest T20I appearnace maker with 59 games under his belt, the same as his keeper Mushfiqur Rahim and opening batsman Tamim Iqbal. Tamim is injured for this series so Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim will move ahead.
Shakib also needs 50 runs to displace Tamim as his country’s top scorer in the format.
He is also Bangladesh’s top wicket taker in T20 internationals – a true allrounder!
Mushfiqur Rahim (Bangladesh)
As well as moving joint top of the Bangladesh appearance list as noted above, the Tigers’ keeper will also be looking for the three dismissals he needs to bring up his half century.
His 24 stumpings to date are enough for third place in the world, and four more will see him move past Afghanistan’s Mohammad Shahzad into second, behind only AB de Villiers.