Thursday, December 7, 2023

Absolutely Awesome

Terrific Tigers produce supremely premium stuff to thump down 9-wicket defeat on strong South Africa; clinch one-day series
Absolutely AwesomeWho says bowlers should have all the fun? Ask Soumya Sarkar and Tamim Iqbal, and they will tell you that that opening period of the second innings, when they literally demolished one of the best bowling attacks in the world, was the highlight of the series against South Africa.
Ask the fans who braved the rains at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium and they will probably be taunting the spectators in Dhaka, for they managed to witness something that the capital could not; a total annihilation orchestrated by Bangladesh’s batsmen.
The left-handed opening duo blew away any remaining doubts of a series win, after South Africa were restricted to 168 for 9 in rain-reduced 40 overs, with a record stand, 154 to be precise, that left spectators at the edge of their seats.
The fierce partnership led Bangladesh to a 9-wicket win with 13.5 overs to spare after their target was revised to 170 and thereby helped them clinch a historical 2-1 series win, their first ever, over the Proteas.
There wasn’t anything different about Soumya’s batting. He punched in the boundaries through covers, pulled a massive six in front of mid-wicket and even found time to cheekily lift boundaries over the keeper’s head. He just continued from his unbeaten 88 in Dhaka.
The highlight of his innings came as early as the fourth over when he smacked the much talked about Kagiso Rabada for three consecutive boundaries, two of which, flicked with sheer precision to the leg-side, would have been any left-hander’s delight.
The difference though was in Tamim’s technique. The batsman, who was guilty of going down the track and charging the bowler on too many occasions in the last two matches, displayed plenty of patience and composure. He let his younger partner dominate, and dominate he did with a flow so powerful that it left the South African fielders frustrated.
Earlier, Soumya had given one real opportunity to the visitors and that was in the 20th over when he charged Morne Morkel down the track and smashed him over point. A running Farhaan Behardien though failed to get a hand on the ball, which on any other day would have been grasped by a South African fielder in the deep.
Soumya ended up hammering 13 boundaries and a six for his 90, while Tamim played a rather laidback half-century of 61 not out to complement the youngster.
Earlier, Hashim Amla found his side in trouble on a slow and low Chittagong track after the visitors elected to bat first.
Once again, it was a disciplined bowling effort that stifled the visitors. It began with the young Mustafizur Rahman uprooting Quinton de Kock’s stumps with a fuller delivery in the third over. That was followed with Shakib Al Hasan removing Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla.
Shakib used the wicket to perfection and troubled the batsmen with his flighted deliveries. With runs difficult to come by, du Plessis had attempted to sweep Shakib for a boundary but only managed to sky one up in the air.
Amla, who was trying to manoeuvre the innings for his side, edged one to the keeper while attempting to play an inside-out drive and that brought up Shakib’s 200th ODI wicket.
After South Africa were four down, the match witnessed a three-hour break due to the incoming showers. As a result, the match was reduced to 40 overs per side.
Upon resumption of the innings, Rilee Rossouw and David Miller were in the process of stitching a comeback with a half-century stand.
But that was broken in the 30th over by skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, whose wide delivery got Miller caught at point, courtesy of a smart diving catch from Sabbir Hossain.
That wicket brought Mashrafe his 200th. At the end of 35 overs, South Africa had lost their top half and the tail-enders, in an attempt to up the run-rate lost their wickets. There wasn’t a lot that they could do with the likes of Mustafizur and Shakib bowling towards the end.

Courtesy of The Daily Star

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