After four predictable one-sided matches in a row (though I did predict the minor upset thinking South Africa would beat England), you could be forgiven for thinking it would be the same thing when Bangladesh faced South Africa. There was nothing to suggest it would be close, let alone that Bangladesh would win. Nothing. While the eternal optimists that Bangladesh cricket fans are thought it was always going to happen, that was not the majority view at all. And there I was thinking I was having a pretty good run with my predictions. 330 vs 309. Bangladesh’s highest ever score in all one day internationals, not just World Cups, and, had it been chased, it would have been the highest score ever chased in a World Cup. It wasn’t to be. Wow. Wowowow.
Five Things We Learned
(1) Oh World Cup, how you fooled us
Four one-sided matches in a row. Four. Two of them saw teams bowled out for around 150 and chased down inside 20 overs. One of them saw a victory by 10 wickets. Even the close ones were decided by nearly 100 runs and with 15 overs to spare. And then, just as we think this is going to be a boring predictable tournament, this happens. And yet this is what World Cups do to us. The most boring ones have often flipped things on their heads and been interesting, like in 2003 when boycotts threatened to ruin it, only to allow not just Zimbabwe but Kenya into the Super 6s, and then Kenya made it all the way into the semis. Wow. This was a big wow moment and suddenly the World Cup has sprung to life.
(2) South Africa may rue going in with the “extra bowler”
Hashim Amla’s injury didn’t help matters but the decision to replace him with an extra bowler was a huge mistake, especially when Lungi Ngidi was taken out of the attack after 4 expensive overs and part-timer Aiden Markham took over. Why go in with an extra bowler when you’re not going to use them? Seeing Bangladesh pile on their highest ever one day international score against one of the best bowling attacks going in with an extra bowler was particularly awful. As one commentator said, the plan A was very likely to work, but when it didn’t there was no plan B.
(3) Bangladesh can score
Bangladesh is a team more well-known for their bowling than their batting, and for winning when their spin bowlers can manage to reduce a team to a low total, but in this match they showed that they can set a target too. While 330 would be a walk in the park for many teams, it was Bangladesh’s highest ever one day international score, and it was simply too much for South Africa. We may have to rethink how we look at Bangladesh. Either that or this was a one-off. Time will tell.
(4) My team predictions are already wrong
So I put Bangladesh as finishing last with 0 wins, and they already have 1 win in their very first match, so now I can hang my head in shame. I also had South Africa winning the tournament, yet now they are sitting there 0-2 after 2 matches. While Bangladesh can still finish last and South Africa can still win the trophy, the 0 wins thing can’t happen. So much for having a predictable tournament like in 2007, this is looking more like 2003 when I got just about every prediction wrong.
(5) Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim have still got it
How many times now have these two held it all together for Bangladesh? They were batting as high as 3 and 4 in this match, two spots higher than usual, but they combined for a partnership that just kept going and going and going. It’s what we are used to seeing, at least the times when things work for Bangladesh, and it had an air of predictability about it. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it just feels oh so safe and as soon as their partnership hit 50 there was this sinking feeling that South Africa were going to lose.