South Africa’s Cricket World Cup hopes took a dive when they crashed to their second loss of the tournament against Bangladesh at the Oval on Sunday.
Having been beaten by favourites England by 104 runs at the same ground on Thursday, Faf du Plessis’ team were on the receiving end of a record-break effort by the Bangladeshis.
Their total of 330/6 was the highest they have made in one-day internationals.
It proved out of South Africa’s reach by 21 runs — they slumped to 309/8 in reply.
The South Africans seemed flat and listless throughout, and are likely to find the going even tougher against India in Southampton on Wednesday.
Having come to the tournament on the back of slim belief among even their most ardent fans that could improve on previous performances in the tournament, South Africa are in danger of falling below those expectations.
And things won’t get any easier for them, what with powerhouses India waiting for them in Southampton on Wednesday.
An over-reliance on the short ball and messy fielding did South Africa no favours on Sunday.
The Bangladeshis didn’t need a second invitation to exploit those failings, with Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar rattling up 60 inside nine overs for the first wicket.
Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim added 142 for the third, and Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain put on 66 for the sixth.
Shakib’s 75, Mushfiqur’s 78 and Mahmudullah’s 33-ball unbeaten 46 were the pick of their efforts, but the narrative of the innings was Bangladesh’s composure in the face of South Africa’s attempts at hostility.
Not for the Asians the frailties previous sides from their country have shown in the face of the short stuff, especially outside of their home conditions.
There was an impressive confidence about their response to South Africa’s approach, exemplified by Shakib pivoting slickly to swing a Chris Morris bouncer through fine leg for the boundary that brought up his 50.
Among South Africa’s seamers, only Andile Phehlukwayo didn’t try to succeed through aggression.
His reward was the wickets of Tamim and Mushfiqur and an economy rate of 5.2 — the best of the bunch.
Imran Tahir celebrated his 100th one-day international by bowling Shakib and Mohammad Mithun.
Of the rest of the attack, only Kagiso Rabada was able to keep the damage to under a run a ball.
Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram looked to be building a solid start to South Africa’s reply, but in the 10th over De Kock declined a single only to see Markram keep on coming and then hesitate.
De Kock turned too late and was well out of his ground when a throw from Mushfiqur, who had ditched a wicketkeeping glove and chased down the ball, hit the stumps.
It turned out to be that kind of innings for South Africa, strewn with false starts and unfinished business.
Markram’s 45 was a decent effort but it should have been bigger. Likewise David Miller, Rassie van der Dussen and JP Duminy and their scores of 38, 41 and 45.
Faf du Plessis looked in complete control for his 62, which was ended when he swiped clumsily at Mehidy Hasan Miraz and was properly bowled.
Size matters, and South Africa’s batters weren’t big enough when it mattered most.
Now, they look smaller than ever — and shrinking fast.
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