South Africa hold nerve to usurp Bangladesh in a thriller

Klaasen played a key hand for South Africa. PC – BCCI

South Africa’s bowlers held their nerve to usurp Bangladesh in a thriller by a mere four runs at the Nassau County International Stadium in New York. The Asian nation came agonisingly close to causing an upset, but eventually ended up with 109. 

Bangladesh needed six off the last two deliveries. The jam-packed stadium, mostly made up of Bangladeshi fans, anticipated a historic win. Mahmudullah, who has played some vital hands for his country, tried to loft Keshav Maharaj into the stands. Unfortunately for Mahmudullah and Bangladesh, Aiden Markram, the South African skipper, pulled off an excellent catch at long-on. 

The experienced Bangladesh cricketer was so stunned that he didn’t want to leave the ground for a few minutes, before he trudged back to the pavilion. Maharaj then fired in the last delivery and stopped Taskin Ahmed from cracking a six. As the South African fielders hugged Maharaj for keeping his cool under pressure, one could only ponder about Bangladesh once again hurtling to a gut-wrenching defeat.

Just a few minutes before the final outcome, Bangladesh seemed to be in ascendancy. Towhid Hridoy, the young batter, played with composure to compile a useful hand of 37. He was the one who played Anrich Nortje with a degree of confidence. Mahmudullah, who got a reprieve, shared a stand of 44 with Hridoy. However, at 94 for 4, Rabada prised out the talented Hridoy LBW and that turned the match on its head. Rabada and Ottneil Baartman combined to keep the runs down before Maharaj provided the finishing touches. 

There was also some controversy during Bangladesh’s innings. In the 17th over, Mahmudullah was adjudged LBW by the on-field umpire. The veteran batter got it reversed via the DRS. Just that the ball had scurried away to the fine-leg fence. In normal circumstances, it would have gone down as four leg-byes. But as the on-field decision was out, it was adjudged as a dead ball and those four extras didn’t count. Incidentally, Bangladesh lost the game by four runs.

Earlier, Tanzim Hasan, Taskin and Rishad Hossain had shared six wickets between them to keep South Africa down to a score of 113. In very tricky conditions for batting, the Proteas were in trouble at 23 for four. At that stage, Heinrich Klaasen, who was adjudged the Player of the Match, propped up the innings with 46 off 44 deliveries. David Miller also played his part with a handy innings of 29. Quinton de Kock was the only other batter to cross the double-digit mark.

For Bangladesh, Tanzim bowled a hard length and extracted enough movement to return figures of three for 18 from four overs. Taskin, his pace colleague, took two for 19. South Africa have won all three matches so far, while Bangladesh have lost one and emerged victorious in the other game.