Although practice matches are relatively relaxed affairs where the touring team experiment with their lineup and strategies to settle on a final version for the international matches to follow, it is highly doubtful that ODI skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza can draw anything positive or constructive from a six-wicket loss to a South Africa Invitational XI side that had only four international players in AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Aaron Phangiso and Aiden Markram. The only thing to take away from this match is that Bangladesh need to improve a lot to put up a fight in the three-ODI series against South Africa starting in Kimberley on Sunday.
The only two members of the South Africa ODI squad playing yesterday -- skipper Duminy (34) and batting maestro de Villiers -- took the side to within 20 runs of the 256-run target before Duminy was stumped off the bowling of Mahmudullah Riyad in the 42nd over. Mahmudullah also had de Villiers caught behind in the 46th over for 43. Khaya Zondo and Heinrich Klaasen then took the side home without further fuss and with 3.3 overs to spare. Markram had earlier top-scored with a 68-ball 82 before being caught and bowled by Nasir Hossain.
On a flat wicket at the Mangaung Oval, Bangladesh's bowlers needed 22.1 overs to draw the first false shot when Mustafizur Rahman dropped a return catch from opener Matthew Breetzke on 51. However, Bangladesh could not last the full fifty overs and were out for just 255 in 48.1 overs.
While Bangladesh's batsmen fell to the old habit of playing shots at the wrong time, their bowlers stuck to their old failing of bowling both sides of the wicket and not displaying enough patience to stick to a good line and length to frustrate the batsmen, with the 18-year old Breetzke and two-Test rookie Markram striking an opening partnership of 147 in just 25.4 overs that all but settled the outcome.
It could be said that the batsmen fared worse because it was not as if the South Africa XI bowlers bowled unplayable deliveries. One could even say that Mashrafe's ball to bowl Breetzke for 71, a ball that seamed in and crashed into the stumps, was as good a ball as was bowled yesterday. But after Mashrafe won the toss and batted first, his batsmen failed him as all except one were out playing shots of whimsy rather than responding to any sort of pressure created by the bowlers.
Only Shakib Al Hasan and Sabbir Rahman played innings of note after Bangladesh were reduced to 63 for four by the end of the 15th over. They put on 76 runs for the sixth wicket in just 11.3 overs after Shakib and Mahmudullah Riyad had lifted the total to 120 with a 57-run fifth-wicket stand. Shakib, back in the side after opting out of the Test leg of the tour, scored a 67-ball 68 with nine fours before holing out to mid on off Phangiso. Sabbir was out for a 54-ball 52 with two fours and three sixes when he tried to scoop Mbulelo Budaza and only managed to loop the ball to the keeper.
Soumya skied a pull to mid on in the eighth over; Imrul was out wafting outside off stump in the next ball. Mushfiqur Rahim played some attractive shots but pulled Phangiso straight down the throat of deep midwicket for 22 just after Liton Das had poked outside off stump to depart for eight.
After the Sabbir-Shakib stand, Nasir was caught behind off a hook in the 44th over to leave the score on 226 for eight, leaving the stage clear for Mashrafe to hit a 13-ball 17 and drag the score past 250.