Tigers suffer after toss surprise
If morning shows the day, Bangladesh are in for some trouble. The morning session of the first day of the opening Test against South Africa was as one-sided as it gets with the home side playing trouble-free cricket to reach 99 without loss at lunch at Senwes Park. Ironically the one thing Bangladesh got right was the one thing they could have done with getting wrong – Mushfiqur Rahim called correctly at the toss and to everyone's surprise on a pitch devoid of grass, sent the Proteas in, much to the delight of home skipper Faf du Plessis, who may as well have been smirking when he said that he would have opted to bat.
It went downhill from there. Mustafizur Rahman opened the bowling with Shafiul Islam. The pace duo were faced with the experienced Dean Elgar and an exciting, talented debutant in Aiden Markram. There was no swing, no seam on offer -- there was just good carry, and that played into the hands of the South African batsmen for whom it is second nature to play on such pitches. Two hours later, Markram was walking back unbeaten on 43 with Elgar unconquered on 56, having worked up a light appetite for lunch.
The utter confusion in the Bangladesh ranks was exemplified by the sight of off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz coming on to bowl in the sixth over. In South Africa. After they won the toss and elected to bowl. An off-spinner, with Taskin Ahmed waiting in the wings.
Although it looked grim seen through Bangladeshi eyes, from the Proteas' perspective the prospect was as bright as the mid-day sunshine after the clouds that may have influenced Bangladesh's decision parted. There was some excitement about Markram's inclusion in the side, and the 22-year-old tall right-hander looked every bit the part. Apart from one instance in the 19th over when he was surprised by Taskin's bounce and the ball landed just in front of a diving Mustafizur Rahman at point, Markram was in total command and unfurled some cover drives and on drives which illustrated just what all the fuss was about.
Elgar chose to face a lion's share of the deliveries, perhaps to shelter his young partner (although from what it is yet to be discerned), and was in command throughout, reaching his ninth Test fifty off his 86th ball with a single off Mehedi in the 24th over.
The Tigers will be taking an uneasy lunch, wondering if they can repair the damage that was altogether their own making. If the morning session is anything to go by, the answer does not look good.