ICL: Indian Cricket League

Steyn leaves Bangladesh in tatters


Bangladesh fought bravely in the first half of the day but were then swept away by a tidal wave of South African pace, and a clever little spell of left-arm spin from Robin Peterson. Having been asked to follow on 324 runs behind, and with Aftab Ahmed in hospital under observation, Bangladesh slid inexorably towards defeat as the evening shadows lengthened, finishing the day on 54 for 5.

A positive start was essential for Bangladesh at the second time of asking but once again, Dale Steyn’s pace was a huge stumbling block. Junaid Siddique, who had batted so well in the second innings in Mirpur, went without scoring, hanging his bat out at one, and with Tamim Iqbal marooned on 0 for 28 balls, it was left to Shahriar Nafees to pick off some runs.

Nafees had anchored the first innings with a solid 69, but he once again flirted with danger in the quest for runs. There was once classy pull for four, but several of his boundaries came either off the outside edge or the glove as South Africa’s bowlers persisted with a barrage of short-pitched deliveries.

The breakthrough though came courtesy spin. Tamim had already been dropped by Kallis at slip earlier, but a needless heave after a sashay down the pitch only found the man at mid-on. Three balls later, Peterson landed one in the rough and a squared-up Nafees could only edge to slip. This time, Kallis made no mistake.

The last act was left to Steyn. Mohammad Ashraful was softened up by bouncers, and a delivery that lifted outside off stump was poked through to Mark Boucher. Soon after, Shakib Al Hasan got into an awful tangle, and could only fend one off the glove to forward short leg. Bangladesh were reeling, and the offer of light from the umpires only served to delay the inevitable till the fourth morning.

It hadn’t always been such one-way traffic. In the morning, Nafees had chiselled out a fine innings and enjoyed significant partnerships with Abdur Razzak, the nightwatchman, and Aftab, before Shakib took over the mantle after lunch. His departure just before tea, significantly impacted Bangladesh’s hopes of saving the Test, as did the nasty injury to Aftab.

Graeme Smith’s lucky charm turned out to be Makhaya Ntini, who returned just before the interval to have both Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim caught behind. Shakib had struggled at times against the short ball, but was otherwise composed, striking some lovely fours down the ground and through midwicket. But when he tried to cut one that was too close to him, Boucher had an easy catch to take.

Ntini bowled round the wicket for that dismissal, but minutes earlier, he had struck with his traditional weapon, the ball that angles back in to the right-hander. Mushfiqur got the edge, and Ntini went past Allan Donald (330 wickets) on South Africa’s all-time list.

South Africa had reason to rue some uncharacteristically sloppy fielding too. Shakib was dropped when he had yet to score, with Johan Botha putting down a low chance at gully off Steyn. Another edge from Mushfiqur evaded Smith at first slip, and South Africa were left to celebrate only the one wicket in the first hour after lunch.

That came in the very first over, with Nafees edging Steyn to Smith to end his morning of defiance. Soon after, Bangladesh’s innings was in further trouble, with Aftab top-edging a Kallis delivery into his face - ball just squeezing between helmet peak and grille. He was stretchered off it was left to Shakib and Mushfiqur to resurrect the innings.

The morning had belonged to Bangladesh, with Nafees wresting the initiative, and Razzak providing sterling support. Steyn and Ntini tested both men with the short stuff, and searing pace in the case of Steyn. There were a couple of streaky strokes down to third man, but the initial stages were characterised more by defence. Steve Bucknor expressed his unhappiness at Steyn running on the pitch, but otherwise, there was little to talk about.

That changed once the batsmen grew in confidence. Nafees started to cut and pull with power and precision, and with Ntini and Mornè Morkel below par, the runs started to mount. And when Hashim Amla wore a sweep from Nafees on his ankle, Smith’s worries merely increased.

The wicket, when it came, arrived from an unlikely source. Peterson had been tidy rather than threatening, but after Razzak slogged one over midwicket, the encore flew off the top edge to point. Aftab might have gone early, but the bat-up-like-periscope response to a Morkel bouncer fetched him four to third man instead.

With Nafees playing some gorgeous drives off the expensive Morkel, the fifth-wicket partnership reached 50 at almost five an over, and it was Bangladesh that went to lunch the happier. But Ntini’s dramatic four-wicket intervention either side of tea being brewed was decisive, and South Africa were always on course thereafter to tie up another crushing victory. Barring rain, it should come on the fourth morning.

Source:Cricket News

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