Another mismatch

For Bangladesh though, every match is an experience in itself and, looking back at this contest, the side can take heart from the fact that it did bowl reasonably well to restrict South Africa to 261 after Graeme Smith won the toss and took first strike.

S. DINAKAR

THAT India would meet South Africa in the TVS Cup final was very, very obvious even before the three-nation tournament began. In an event where the third side is a rather modest one, the finalists often decide themselves. It was no different here.

Jacques Rudolph, who struck 81, forces Sanwar Hossain. — Pics. N. BALAJI-

For Bangladesh though, every match is an experience in itself and, looking back at this contest, the side can take heart from the fact that it did bowl reasonably well to restrict South Africa to 261 after Graeme Smith won the toss and took first strike.

Yet, the composition of the Bangladesh side made bigger news than the performance of the team on the field. Missing from the eleven was wicket-keeper batsman Khaled Mashud, the captain of the team in South Africa not too long back.

The selectors pointed at Mashud's lacklustre form, but there were whispers that they were unhappy with his attitude during the World Cup and the preceding Test and ODI series in South Africa, where team discipline was a casualty.

Taking Mashud's place was the young Mohammed Salim. That he was drafted in from outside the squad for this game, made matters even more dramatic.

Controversy or not, Bangladesh made a cracking start to the match, when Tapash Baishya's off-cutter was helped on to the stumps by Herschelle Gibbs. The dashing opener had not yet opened his account and the score was just five.

Things would have been even better for Bangladesh had Habibul Bashar, in the slip cordon, not made a mess of an offering from the left-handed Jacques Rudolph, who edged a cut off Baishya.

At the other end, the experienced left-arm paceman Manjurul Islam, back in the side for the game, was steady. Smith and Rudolph survived this tentative phase, and proceeded to add 101 in 21 overs.

Smith (67, 76b, 8x4, 1x6) was strong off his legs, while Rudolph's (81, 113b, 8x4) driving on the off-side had a touch of class.

Batting has been a problem area for the Proteas, and both Smith and Rudolph hold much promise for the future. Both are basically strokemakers, though Rudolph is the one with softer hands.

Neil McKenzie came up a useful knock towards the end, after spinners — left-armer Mohammed Rafique and leggie Kapali — had checked the run-rate in the middle overs.

It was former captain Shaun Pollock's blitzkrieg in the closing overs (38, 20b, 2x4, 2x6) that catapulted South Africa past 250. Pollock, such a clean striker of the ball, dismissed Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud for two huge sixes, one over long-on, and the other soaring over the long-off fence.

And when Bangladesh chased, Smith finally tossed the new ball to Pollock and there was now venom in the South African attack. Ntini hustled the batsmen with his pace from one end and Pollock had them rattled with his leg and off-cutters.

Allan Dawson's accuracy coupled with movement compensated for his relative lack of pace as he too kept the pressure on the hosts. Before long, Bangladesh was 29 for four and the match was effectively over as a contest.

Alok Kapali, a combative cricketer, decided to make his presence felt though, and his 101-ball 70 formed the core of the Bangladesh resistance.

Kapali was fluent in the cover region and also swept the spinners well. He was one Bangladesh cricketer who displayed some fight in the tournament...both with the ball and the bat.

Boucher had a busy night behind the stumps, pouching five, even as Shaun Pollock became the highest wicket-taker in ODIs for South Africa. And he has several years, milestones and records ahead of him.

The South Africans included pace-bowling all-rounder Andrew Hall for the game, the unimpressive Charl Willoughby making way. Hall, quicker than he seems to be, did bowl adequately, seaming the ball away from the batsmen from just short of a good length, and being rewarded for that.

Left-arm Chinaman bowler Paul Adams too had a useful stint. With his unique style of bowling this lively cricketer does add something to the game. Cricket needs characters and the bubbly Adams is one.

In the end, the match finished tamely, Bangladesh being dismissed for 168 in 49 overs. It was again a game that was going to end only one way on the slow Bangabandhu Stadium pitch.

The scores:

South Africa: G. Smith b Sanwar Hossain 67; H. Gibbs b Tapash Baisya 0; J. Rudolph c Mohammad Salim b Sanwar Hossain 81; H. Dippenaar c & b Alok Kapali 16; M. Boucher c Mehrab Hossain b Alok Kapali 12; N. McKenzie (not out) 39; S. Pollock (not out) 38; Extras (lb-4, w-3, nb-1) 8. Total (for five wickets in 50 overs) 261.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-106, 3-143, 4-174, 5-192.

Bangladesh bowling: Manjural Islam 10-0-38-0, Tapash Baisya 8-0-57-1, Mohammad Rafique 10-2-42-0, Khaled Mahmud 4-0-40-0, Sanwar Hossain 8-1-40-2, Alok Kapali 10-1-40-2.

Bangladesh: Mohammad Ashraful lbw b Pollock 13; Mehrab Hossain c Boucher b Ntini 6; Habibul Bashar lbw b Pollock 1; Akram Khan c Boucher b Dawson 3; Alok Kapali c Adams b Hall 71; Khaled Mahmud c Boucher b Hall 24; Sanwar Hossain c & b Adams 9; Mohammad Salim c Boucher b Pollock 9; Mohammad Rafique c Boucher b Hall 3; Tapash Baisya c Smith b Dawson 7; Manjural Islam (not out) 5. Extras (lb-2, w-9, nb-6) 17. Total (in 49 overs) 168.

Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-19, 3-25, 4-29, 5-84, 6-104, 7-145, 8-150, 9-157.

South Africa bowling: Pollock 7-2-17-3, Ntini 8-1-22-1, Dawson 10-1-29-2, Hall 10-1-32-3, Adams 10-0-40-1, Rudolph 4-0-26-0.