It was evident long before yesterday's second ODI at Boland Park that Bangladesh were completely outmatched by hosts South Africa on their tour, and that had happened without the help of the best and most celebrated batsman in the land, even as the others plundered runs off the hapless bowling. So when AB de Villiers, who spent time cooling his heels in the dressing room as openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock put on a record chase unconquered in the first ODI, got his chance and made fullest use of it yesterday, there was no hope as Bangladesh teetered to an inevitable loss by 104 runs as they lost the series with one more game to play in East London on Sunday.
De Villiers's highest score of 176 off 104 balls, which drove South Africa to 353 for six, may have been the long-awaited piece of the pie in their utter dominance, but the hosts will take great succour from the fact that the young and generally unthreatening medium pacer Andile Phehlukwayo was the wrecker in chief with a four-wicket haul as Bangladesh were all out for 249 in 47.4 overs.
Old problems of getting set and getting out that really don't bear repeating anymore persisted, but at least the Tigers can take solace from the fact that a batsman of De Villiers's prowess has done similar damage to teams better than them, and all the batsmen could have done was to get as close to the target as possible and then hope for the best.
The match saw opener Tamim Iqbal returning after a thigh muscle injury had kept him out of the second Test and first ODI, but Bangladesh's muddled state of mind was encapsulated by the decision of jettisoning a bowler for a returning batsman as Mohammad Saifuddin was left out and not Liton Das, who had opened in Tamim's absence in the first ODI. Saifuddin was very expensive in that match, but he could have been replaced with another bowling all-rounder in Mehedi Hasan Miraz, but clear thought has not been a feature of the team or management this tour.
In the chase, scoreboard pressure would always have proven too much, especially on a terrible Boland Park outfield that was still soggy from the rain of the past few days, and it was more of a disadvantage for Bangladesh as they don't have the big hitters South Africa were blessed with. The pitch, however, was a belter and for some time the visitors were abreast of the challenge. Reaching 162 for two in 29 overs before leg-spinner Imran Tahir had Imrul Kayes was caught at cover off a leading edge for 68. Before that Tamim proved his fitness with three boundaries in his 23 before he was adjudged leg-before off Dwaine Pretorius in the eighth over, a decision that would have been overturned had he reviewed. With the score on 69, Liton however chose to review a plumb leg-before three overs later, off Phelukwayo, and wasted the one review the team had.
Imrul and Mushfiqur Rahim, who scored his second successive 50-plus score with 60 to follow the century in the first game, put on a 93-run third-wicket stand, but with the run rate creeping up, Imrul's dismissal predictably brought about the collapse. Shakib Al Hasan perished trying to run Tahir down to third man and when Mushfiqur Rahim advanced and cut Pretorius to point to be fifth out with the score on 184 in the 34th over, it became a case of losing respectfully. Mahmudullah Riyad hit a 46-ball 35 as one by one – after Sabbir Rahman's dismissal for 17 which gave Tahir his third wicket – the tail came and fell to Phehlukwayo. He was ninth out on 239, bowled by Phehlukwayo, and Bangladesh managed to add just 10 more before Dane Paterson took his first international wicket by bowling Rubel Hossain.
Earlier, skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza won the toss and elected to bowl, saying that the pitch will become easier to bat on in the afternoon. At 90 for two in the 18th over, with Shakib Al Hasan having hit a groove and dismissing Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis in the same over, it seemed for a brief while that the script may change a bit for Bangladesh. But from the start De Villiers left everyone at the ground in no doubt that any advantage Bangladesh had gained would quickly be a thing of the past. Two hours and 30 overs of resplendent fireworks later, he left the field with his ODI score of 176, scored off just 104 deliveries with seven sixes and 15 fours, having set South Africa comfortably on the path of a total of 353 for six off 50 overs. It was his 22nd ODI century on his first match for the Proteas since the Champions Trophy in June.
Bangladesh's bowling has been poor enough throughout this tour, but it would be redundant to be too harsh on them as De Villiers has laid to better attacks in similar fashion. He dominated two century-plus partnerships after the 90-run opening stand; scoring 86 of the 136 runs put on for the third wicket along with Hashim Amla, who was caught behind off Rubel for 85 in the 36th over, and then scored 90 of the 117 runs added for the fourth wicket with JP Duminy -- a partnership that needed just 70 deliveries.
De Villiers reached his hundred off just 68 balls with a single to mid wicket off Rubel Hossain in the 38th over. He then proceeded to score 76 runs off the next 36 balls. He truly turned it on from the last ball of the 42 nd over, hitting all seven of his sixes and four boundaries in that period, till he was out in the 48th over, trying to his eighth, but only managing to miscue it to Sabbir Rahman at midwicket off Rubel. He hit two successive sixes off Mashrafe Bin Mortaza in the 45th over, repeated the dose off Taskin in the next over, adding a four in the middle. The first of those sixes brought up his 150 in 93 deliveries. Another four and two sixes followed in Mashrafe's next over.
South Africa were headed for a 370-plus total but for De Villiers's dismissal and a two-wicket burst from Rubel in the last over, giving the paceman figures of four for 62 off 10 overs. Shakib was the most economical with two for 60 from 10, and Mashrafe the most expensive, conceding 82 from his 10 overs.