What a difference a few months can make. At the start of December, Bangladeshi cricket was in disarray after a miserable T20 World Cup and a humbling a Test series against Pakistan. Now the side look renewed after drawing away in a Test series against New Zealand and beating their current hosts in an ODI series. But the Proteas have been playing some excellent Test cricket themselves of late. Who will come out on top? Read on for our full South Africa vs Bangladesh 1st Test preview and prediction:
South Africa vs Bangladesh 1st Test Preview and Prediction
South Africa sparked the turnaround in their Test match fortunes by beating India 2-1 in the Freedom Trophy at home, battling back from a 1-0 deficit in the series to win it with captain Dean Elgar, Keegan Petersen and Temba Bavuma leading the way with the back. They maintained that fine form away in New Zealand, earning a very honourable draw away from home against the world champions. They will surely be full of confidence as a result, even after defeat in the ODI series.
Bangladesh’s defeat at home against Pakistan was nothing short of humiliation, particularly in the second match which they contrived to lose despite nearly two days of play being lost to rain. But that appears to have been their nadir. They have since earned an impressive draw of their own away from home against New Zealand in their last Test match series before beating Afghanistan on home turf and South Africa away in white-ball series.
South Africa will be without some of their star names who have elected to play the IPL. But the Proteas can still field a strong XI. Captain Elgar will open the batting alongside Sarel Erwee, who enjoyed a fine debut series in New Zealand highlighted by a maiden tonne. Petersen, probably the pick of the South African batters against India, will make a return to the side at number three after missing out in New Zealand due to covid. Ryan Rickelton may be in line for a Test debut at number four.
That will allow Temba Bavuma to keep his preferred spot at five. Kyle Verreyne, who also made his first century against the Black Caps, will bat at six. All-rounder Wiaan Mulder looks the likeliest option at number seven in Marco Jansen’s absence. Keshav Maharaj will likely keep his place ahead of Simon Harmer. Duanne Olivier will lead the attack with support from Lutho Sipamla. Daryn Dupavillon may get the nod ahead of Glenton Stuurman, who struggled to make an impact in New Zealand.
Bangladesh will probably stick with the opening combination of Shadman Islam and Mahmudul Hasan Joy. Najmul Hossain Shanto is the likeliest option at number three with captain Monimul Haque at number four. Litton Das looks increasingly comfortable in Test cricket and can also take the wicket-keeping gloves. Star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan has mulled over a retirement from Test cricket, but appears to have walked back on that and will surely play if available.
Yasir Ali or Mushfiqur Rahim can stiffen the lower order at number seven whilst Mehidy Hasan Miraz, who was in good form with bat and ball in the ODI series, will bat at eight. With Durban’s Kingsmead Stadium usually a seamer’s wicket, and often a low-scoring ground, Bangladesh’s pace bowling trio of Ebadot Hossain, Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam will be vital to their side’s chances. Fortunately, all three have been in fine form in Test cricket of late.
Elgar and Erwee are both redoubtable opening batsmen, but it is Petersen who brings a touch of class to this South African batting unit. He struggled through his debut series on difficult pitches in the West Indies, but came into his own against India. He failed to make a century, but scored three vital 50s, including in both innings of the decisive third match, which were worth their weight in gold in a low-scoring series. If he can pick up where he left of, South Africa will be in very good shape.
If the South African batters are not to make a mark in this series, the Bangladeshi seamers will need to have a good match. Of the three, it is Shoriful Islam who looks the best prospect. He has the best average of the three, though at 46.16 it is still in need of improvement. But he is also still to celebrate his 21st birthday. If he can continue to adjust to the demands of Test cricket, particularly away from home, Bangladesh might have a real talent on their hands.
Bangladesh’s win in the ODI series was a superb effort, but backing it up in this first Test looks like a tall order. South Africa are without some of their stars, with the absence of bowlers Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi a significant hole to fill, but they still boast a side full of Test match quality players and in conditions that favour them. Bangladesh have shown that they have what it takes to spring an upset, but South Africa look like the likelier side.
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