Bangladesh Vs South Africa
Starting time: 9:00 am IST
Dhaka, March 18: After watching England beat the West Indies a couple of nights ago, Bangladesh will no doubt be goaded on in their objective to making the quarterfinals of the World Cup 2011, even the odds stack up heavily against them and a looming opponent stands in their way - South Africa. When the Bangladeshis take the field against the Proteas on Saturday morning, they will be well aware of the fact that they have never beaten them in a one-dayer. Plus, since the last World Cup the latter leads the head-to-head 5-zip, winning a series in March 2008, 3-nil and then one later that year, 2-zero.
But though Bangladesh ended up the losing side on both those occasions, there were some positives to glean from those encounters. For instance, in the first series, the Proteas' Graeme Smith (avg: 199.00) and A B de Villiers (avg: 109:00) may have led the run-getters charts, but they were followed by the hosts' Raqibul Hasan and Tamim Iqbal.
And in the second series these two sides faced off in, Hashim Amla (avg: 87.50), Jacques Kallis (avg: 149:00) and A B de Villiers (avg: 89.00) may have topped the run tally, but Mohammad Ashraful (39.00) came fourth in the list, while off-spinner Naeem Islam figured in the top three wicket-takers after Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
In the ongoing global event, the Bangladesh batsmen have not quite been upto par but they have jelled supremely as a team and come out tops in three of their encounters. Imrul Kayes with his side's top average of 46.00 is the obviously the most consistent and noteworthy batsman.
Meanwhile, his team-mates Tamim Iqbal with an average of just above 30 and Junaid Siddque and Shakib Al Hasan who have both made 22.40 per match, have not been upto the mark and will be due for some runs against South Africa.
The batting performance of the Proteas on the other hand has been superlative with De Villiers a real stand-out, averaging 106.00 from four innings, which include two centuries and a half century. He is also one of the leading run-scorers in the tournament with an aggregate in excess of 300 runs.
Then the Proteas' Hashim Amla (avg: 49.60) and J P Duminy (avg: 40.80) have been giving him very good support and creating the groundwork for their team to launch out toward large totals.
But more than their batsman, the Bangladeshis will have to watch out for the Proteas' bowlers. Dale Steyn has been in devastating form, garnering 10 wickets from 5 matches at a staggering average of 15.00, while off-spinner Peterson has trumped even him by a couple of notches, with 10 wickets from 4 matches at 12.80 runs conceded per scalp.
In contrast, the Bangladeshi bowlers don't look likely to intimidate all that much with paceman Shaiful Islam averaging 26.33 with 6 wickets to his credit and captain Shakib Al Hasan taking 6 as well while leaking 29.50 runs per wicket.
So, it looks like South Africa is holding most of the cards ahead of this final group stage encounter for both sides. But will Bangladesh surprise the Proteas and throw down a straight flush or a full house?