SA cricketers set to steamroller Bangladesh

South Africa are looking to sweep aside the challenge of Bangladesh in a Super Eights match on Saturday and take a maximum six points from the team’s stay on the South American mainland.

Captain Graeme Smith said on Friday his team were aware of the dangers posed by Bangladesh, who shocked the cricket world by beating mighty India and sending them home. But he was sure his disciplined squad would be up to the task.

“They base a lot of their attack on the spin-bowlers. Their batting attack has been a bit unpredictable,” Smith said.
“They’re a team that’s caught in the middle. They have always been underdogs and they’re under a lot of pressure to keep beating big teams.”

Smith said he would probably select fast-bowler Andre Nel for the match at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence, where the heavy outfield is demanding on bowlers. Nel has not played since the Proteas qualifying group match against The Netherlands, but Smith did not say which bowler he would be resting.

Smith’s biggest concern is that his top order has batted so well that the middle order, including players like Ashwell Prince, Shaun Pollock and Andrew Hall, have had very little time in the middle. “They’re looking very good in the nets, but there’s nothing like time in the middle.”

After almost two weeks in Guyana, the only South American nation represented in the West Indies, Smith said his players were peaking at just the right moment. They were looking forward to high-pressure matches against the West Indies and New Zealand in Grenada next week.

“We feel as though we’ve still got a lot in the tank and we can still raise our levels a lot,” the opener said. “This is the time when you need to be peaking. The Guyana period has been pretty low key and we’re looking forward to stepping it up and getting to the meat of the World Cup.”

Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar is facing an unusual quandary. Despite qualifying for the Super Eights stage for the first time, there has been anger back home that the team have not been able to repeat the feat of beating India in the group stage.

“I don’t think the last two games have been our best cricket. We can still play better,” said the 34-year-old veteran of 105 one-day internationals. “There’s more expectation at the moment that has put us under a bit more pressure. We are expected to be doing better.”

Bangladesh have frustrated coach Dav Whatmore in the Super Eights stage. Against Australia the batsmen attacked from the start and threw their wickets away, scoring only 104. They then responded to Whatmore’s pleas to build an innings by batting at a snail’s pace against New Zealand, scoring only 174 in 48 overs.

“Our game plan is to keep wickets in hand at the start of the innings,” Whatmore said. “If we bowl first, we want to restrict them, but we need runs from our top five.”

Bashar said reports that Whatmore may be poached by India were not distracting the team. “It’s not a problem,” he said. “Dav is with is and that’s what’s important.”—Sapa-AP