Both seamers collected career-best figures to help bowl Bangladesh out for 84, and South Africa aced the chase inside 14 overs
South Africa 86 for 4 (Bavuma 31*, Taskin 2-18) beat Bangladesh 84 (Mahedi 27, Nortje 3-8, Rabada 3-20) by six wickets
Rabada finds his powerlay mojo
Before this match had begun, Rabada had taken 39 wickets in T20s in the UAE, but only four of them had come in the powerplay. On Tuesday, he managed to get away from that trend with the new ball, grabbing three wickets inside the powerplay – he was on a hat-trick at one stage – to rattle Bangladesh early on.
It was a harder, greener, surface than usual at Abu Dhabi, and the ball swung till late in the innings – Dwaine Pretorius the other exponent of it in the match – but not as devastatingly as during Rabada’s first spell. The banana-bend inswinger to catch Soumya Sarkar lbw first ball was a salute to a mode of dismissal that is natural for Rabada in Test cricket, but one which has been hard to find in this format, in this part of the world.
That lbw wicket followed Mohammad Naim’s first attempt at a big shot to hole out at midwicket, and was then followed by Mushfiqur Rahim playing out the hat-trick ball and the ball after. Then, he copped a rising short of a length ball on the shoulder of his bat to be taken at gully and Bangladesh bagged their second duck of a powerplay they finished three wickets down.
More ducks were to follow, but South Africa had to make sure they didn’t allow Bangladesh’s best remaining batters – Liton Das and Mahmudullah – to stage a recovery. Nortje put his hand up for that task, slipping in a fast, steep bouncer that was headed for Mahmudullah’s face and forced him to fend as far as Aiden Markram at point. Bangladesh were 34 for 4 in eight overs at that stage.
That a recovery wasn’t coming became clear off the very next ball, when No. 6 Afif Hossain stepped out and had an ungainly swing across the line against Pretorius. It was his first and last ball at the crease, the wickets split and Bangladesh half their side down.
Liton, in an unfamiliar role of trying to bat through the innings, got as far as 36 balls with careful cricket, before falling to Tabraiz Shamsi. From there on it was an endeavour to get to 20 overs of batting, Mahedi Hasan the only one showing any resolve during that phase. Ultimately, Bangladesh got as far as Nortje’s last over – the 19th over the innings – where Nasum Ahmed became the fourth batter to fall for a duck by knocking his own leg stump with his bat.
One last shot
It was Bangladesh’s third time being bowled out under 100 in T20s this year, and there seemed no real chance of them getting anything out of this game at the mid-way stage. South Africa looked good to solidify their No. 2 standing, but fast bowlers Taskin and Shoriful managed to do a tiny favour for Australia by not allowing South Africa the chance to significantly increase their net run-rate.
While South Africa’s pacers made use of the swing on offer, Bangladesh’s fast bowlers relied on seam movement to make life difficult for the top order. Reeza Hendricks’ dismissal in the first over was a precursor, Taskin getting the ball to nip back in to trap him in front of the stumps. Shoriful would finish with no wickets, but his 15 runs in four overs held the other end up, even as Taskin continued cutting through the mid-riffs of South Africa’s batters with skid and movement inwards. Off the few deliveries that didn’t come back in with the angle, he managed to get Markram to edge to first slip, bat hanging away from the body shortly after Mahedi had straightened one past Quinton de Kock’s back foot punch to hit his middle stump.
At 33 for 3 in six overs, South Africa had to ensure no more of their thin line-up would be exposed, and Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen gave them a 47-run stand that did exactly that. Mahmudullah used up his fast bowlers inside ten overs, with South Africa increasingly comfortable against the spinners; that fast bowling display was about the only silver lining for his men, who now have no points on the board after four matches and officially knocked out of qualification contention, alongside Sri Lanka.
Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo