Preview: South Africa look for top spot; Bangladesh for survival

South African players during a nets session.

By Suneer Chowdhary

Mirpur: Mar 19, 2011

In many ways, it was Bangladesh who had burrowed the South African hole in the previous edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. South Africa had ended fourth at the end of the Super Eight stages thanks to their loss to Bangladesh, where a win would have allowed them a chance to play Sri Lanka in the semi-finals. Instead, they had to take on the mighty Aussies in the last four stage and bowed out without entering their first ever World Cup final.

It is difficult to perceive whether the South Africans would have thought of retribution for that loss but there are enough reasons for them to gun for a win here.

One, South Africa will end at the top of the points table in their group if they win this one and will play one of Sri Lanka, Pakistan or New Zealand in the second round. Australia, by the virtue of their nine points cannot end fourth in their group.

Secondly, and probably less importantly in a tournament of this nature, a win will make them more confident going into the quarter-finals. However, more importantly, a loss against a side like Bangladeshis could take some of the fizz off the start that they have made in the competition.

The news is also good when it comes to their fitness with both, Imran Tahir and AB de Villiers looking good to make a comeback. While de Villiers should jump in the boat if declared fit, it could make sense for Tahir to be allowed some more rest for his injured thumb.

If de Villiers comes back, Colin Ingram may have to sit out despite having a good game against Ireland, having rescued them from a potential mire. Graeme Smith s batting form is an obvious concern but Hashim Amla would be the one to look at. Amla has all the strokes in the book but he seems to go too hard in the initial overs in the ODIs, something that has resulted in missed centuries.

Bangladesh s performance against Netherlands would have been clinical had they finished it off without losing those wickets in the end. That said, a team which had been bowled out for a sub-60 total looks to have regained some of their touch with the wins over England and the Dutch. They have their good days and some not-so-good ones but if they harbour hopes of qualifying for the quarters, they will need an excellent one here.

The Bangladeshi batting woes stem from Tamim Iqbal s sudden spiral-down of form and a middle-order that can sway either way. Against a side which has beaten them in 22 of the 23 international games, this batting will require much digging into the crease to hold a chance.

Teams:

Bangladesh (Probable): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan (c), Raqibul Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Naeem Islam, Abdur Razzak, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain.

South Africa (Probable): Graeme Smith (c), Hashim Amla, Jaques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Morne van Wyk (wk), Faf du Plessis, Robin Peterson, Dale Steyn, Morne Morke, Imran Tahir.

Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Daryl Harper (Australia).

Time: 9.30 local (03.30 GMT)

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)

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