SA number one after series cleansweep

South Africa rode on an unbeaten half-century by Graeme Smith to thrash Bangladesh by seven wickets and become the top-ranked one-day side in the world in Dhaka on Friday.

Smith hit three fours and three sixes in his 94-ball 68 as the visitors overhauled the target of 143 with nearly 16 overs to spare for a 3-0 whitewash.

South Africa, who were level with Australia on points at the top of the one-day rankings before the series, completed the feat with a clinical all-round display.

Smith (27) also surpassed 5 000 runs in one-dayers after reaching the same mark during the South Africans’ 2-0 win in the preceding two-Test series.

The Proteas’ captain, who reached his 36th half-century with a four off left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak, brought off the winning runs with a huge six over long on.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, slumped to their 14th one-day international defeat in a row, with their last win coming against South Africa in a World Cup super eight match last year.

Smith, declared man-of-the-series for collecting 199 runs from three games, said he was pleased to lead by example and ensure the team was well prepared ahead of a tough tour of India starting later this month.

”I have been around for a fair bit now so obviously the responsibility is on me with a few youngsters coming in the team.

”We have done it the hard way here on slightly under-prepared wickets. We have bowled, batted and fielded well. This has been a great preparation for the India tour,” Smith said.

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful cut a sorry figure in contrast.

”Our bowling was good but the batting left a lot to be desired — we could not cross the 200-run mark in any of the three matches.

”The series has been a learning curve for the whole team and we will try to overcome the disappointments with a better show in the future.”

South Africa were off to a cautious run chase, scoring their first 50 off 101 balls before Smith joined A.B. de Villiers (40) to put on a 79-run stand for the third wicket and steer the team to victory.

Earlier, man-of-the-match Albie Morkel picked a career-best 4-29 while off-spinner Johan Botha chipped in with 3-34 as the hosts were bowled out in 42.5 overs on a placid wicket at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.

None of the Bangladeshi batsmen showed the patience or temperament to stand up to a second-string South African bowling attack, throwing away their wickets recklessly.

Half the Bangladesh side were back in the pavilion for just 97 after Ashraful won the toss and elected to bat for the third time in a row.

Tamim Iqbal (eight) was unlucky to be adjudged caught behind off Morkel as TV replays showed the ball clipping the pad and not the bat.

Ashraful’s woeful form continued, being caught at mid-on by Hamish Amla off Morkel for nine. The under-fire skipper finished the series with just 17 runs from three outings. – AFP



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Abhaya Srivastava
Abhaya Srivastava is Agence France Presses South Asia special correspondent.

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