In normal circumstances, this series should result in a whitewash by South Africa but like the ODI one, I expect it to be close, especially with the Test venues being on the coast where the pitches will suit Bangladesh. A lot has been said of their improved pace bowling stocks but it is their batters and spinners who should enjoy playing on the coast.
Bangladesh also comes off a famous Test win against New Zealand where Shakib Al Hasan did not play, so confidence should be high. Bangladesh has played six Test matches against South Africa in South Africa and has lost them all, although the first series win in South Africa in the just-completed ODI series will be a major boost, especially as the majority of the players are in the Test squad as well.
South Africa meanwhile at least in the Test format will want to keep the good feeling in the camp going after that series win against India and the drawn series v New Zealand. However, doing that without their IPL bound players will not be easy and they will certainly miss their pace bowlers. However, this is a great opportunity for their fringe players to show the coach what they can do.
I look at the numerous factors which may make this series competitive.
No IPL Players for the Proteas
The lack of IPL players for the Proteas in this series is problematic for the hosts. The seven bowlers in the South African bowling squad for this series have a total of 30 Test matches between them. It is for this reason Bangladesh will feel they might be able to surprise South Africa. The other thing is that none of the bowlers in the team is settled in the Proteas side, with the likes of Duanne Olivier and Lutho Sipamla only recently returning. They are all on audition trying to get a longer run in the side once the Rabadas and Nigidis do make their return. How South Africa will do without Rabada, Ngidi and Nortje is unchartered waters but there is no harm in seeing what the next best can do.
Bangladesh Spinning Two-some
While there has been improvement for the Bangladesh pace trio in recent years and they were very impressive in the ODI series, their real strength in this series is going to be their spin bowling twosome of Mehidy Hasan and Tajul Islam. Having both quite possibly play in both Tests and the fact they are very different in their approaches and bowling styles will be a huge asset for Bangladesh and potentially troublesome for the Proteas, who are notoriously poor against good spin bowling.
You only need to look at what the local domestic side the Dolphins have done over their last couple of seasons on their home ground Kingsmead to see that the Bangladesh spinners may well make hay in favourable conditions for the away side. Not only have both the Test venues been good for spin bowling but also a challenge for genuine pace bowlers, with a lack of pace in either pitch.
The Shakib Al Hasan Influence
He was not expected to be in South Africa at all but he has been the key reason Bangladesh was successful in winning the ODI series. His exploits in the ODI series showed he is still a quality cricketer and a man in form with determination to succeed. Whether with the bat or ball the team relied on him. He can fill many roles, from occupying the crease to taking the attack to the bowler which he did in the 1st ODI and he is a real x-factor cricketer for the side. The fact he is available for the Test series after early reports were that he would return home is a huge boost for the side.
South Africa have won 6 of their last 10 Test matches against all opponents
Bangladesh have won 3 of their last 10 Test matches against all opponents
St Georges Park
It is not a successful ground for the hosts as South Africa has lost its last two Test matches against Sri Lanka and England here and have only won 13(41.94%) of their matches. Interestingly, in that game against Sri Lanka in 2019 the pace bowlers on either side were the people who did the damage rather than the spinners.
The highest 4th innings successful chase in Port Elizabeth is 271/8 by Aus. v SA in 1997.
South Africa has won only 14 Test matches (31.82%) here, so it is another venue that is not a regular winning location for the Proteas. It is well known for a mammoth 275 that Gary Kirsten made against England in 2000. In the last five Tests played there South Africa has won once v India in 2013 while losing to England, Australia and Sri Lanka, with a draw against New Zealand in 2016 where only one full innings was completed. Interestingly, there have been only three 4th innings successful run chases of over 300 and only one of those was by South Africa.
Kagiso Rabada is 7 short of 250 Test wickets
Keshav Maharaj on 134 is 1 short of passing Paul Adams and being the leading Test spin bowling wicket-taker, post isolation.
Duanne Olivier on 56 Test wickets is 2 short of passing Imran Tahir.
Bangladesh have won 10 of their last 15 ODIs against all opponents
South Africa have won 10 of their last 15 ODIs against all opponents
In 12 Tests played between the two countries Bangladesh has lost 10 and drawn 2, with the latter coming at home but as the ODI series showed, history only carries you so far. However, I do struggle to see Bangladesh winning either Test, even if they don’t have to face Rabada, Ngidi or Nortje in this series.
I think South Africa will show some of that bounce back ability they showed against India in the 2 – 1 series victory but I say that in the full knowledge that it will probably only give this side a brief lift before a very difficult winter comes up.
Test Squad: Dean Elgar (c), Temba Bavuma, Daryn Dupavillon, Sarel Erwee, Simon Harmer, Keshav Maharaj, Wiaan Mulder, Duanne Olivier, Keegan Petersen, Ryan Rickelton, Lutho Sipamla, Glenton Stuurman, Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams, Khaya Zondo.
Test Squad: Mominul Haque (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudul Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Liton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Shohidul Islam, Yasir Ali, Taijul Islam, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taskin Ahmed, Shoriful Islam, Khaled Ahmed, Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain, Shadman Islam, Nurul Hasan
SIGN UP TO OUR BET CENTRAL PLAYBOOK
Get weekly emails packed with the best tips and sports content.
Get ahead of the game now – fill in the contact form below.