About the Match
A lot of milestones will be achieved on Thursday when du Plessis led South Africa host Bangladesh in the opening Test of 2-match series at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom. Bangladesh are coming after a fine performance at home where they defeated Australia in one of the matches. South Africa are arguably the best team while playing at home where they generally notch their performance up to the next level. Aiden Markram and Ottis Gibson will debut for South Africa, Markram as a player and Gibson as a coach. While Bangladesh have limited experience of playing in South African conditions, they've improved a lot in recent past and are far from being termed as pushovers. South Africa certainly have the upper hand going into the competition, but Cricket is a funny game and Bangladesh are more than capable of punching above their weight.
Weather and Toss
Unlike rest of the tracks in South Africa, Senwes Park pitch is on the drier side. It will have a nice carry for the quicks and the spinners will enjoy the bounce. Weather is expected to stay dry for the first three days in the test match and rain for the last two. Pitch will be best to bat on for the first two days and expect the team winning the toss to bat first.
It is a beginning of a new era for South Africa with the new coach and many players being in early stages of their career. Despite defeat in their previous series, against England, Faf du Plessis' brave captaincy was praiseworthy. He hasn't backed off from taking tough decisions which have paid off on numerous occasions.
Du Plessis will now handle a battery of young but talented seamers with Kagiso Rabada and Duanne Olivier along with veteran Morne Morkel. Depending upon whether he chooses to bolster the batting or sharpen the pace attack, we'll see one of Andile Pehlukwayo and Theunis de Bruyn included in the team. Opening batsmen Heino Kuhn will make way for debutant Aiden Markram who will partner Dean Elgar as far as opening the innings is concerned.
With the likes of Hashim Alma, Faf du Plessis, and Quniton de Kock in the middle order with youngsters to play around them this South African side is an excellent amalgamation of youth and experience.
Likely Playing XI:
Dean Elgar - Aiden Markram - Hashim Amla - Temba Bavuma - Faf du Plessis (c) - Quinton de Kock (wk) - Andile Phehlukwayo - Keshav Maharaj - Kagiso Rabada - Morne Morkel - Duanne Olivier.
As compared to the Bangladeshi side which toured South Africa back in 2002, this team is a massive improvement as far as the recent performances are concerned. The onus will be on the seniors in the side: Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, and Mahmudullah to guide youngsters in the tough South African conditions.
Bangladesh will be playing without their stalwart, Shakib al Hasan, who was granted rest by the board for this important series. Their youngsters have done well over the past few matches and with the competition growing healthier within their team, we can expect youngsters to be a tad more responsible with their game.
Bangladesh used to be unmatched against strong Protean unit until '15 ODI series where they thrashed South Africa at home. This Bangladesh is a lot different as compared to the older versions and with players with aggressive mindset with few good wins under their belt, we expect the Tigers to present a strong challenge to mighty South Africans.
Likely Playing XI:
Tamim Iqbal - Soumya Sarkar - Imrul Kayes - Mominul Haque - Mahmudullah - Mushfiqur Rahim (c/wk) - Sabbir Rahman - Mehdi Hasan - Taskin Ahmed - Subashis Roy - Mustafizur Rahman.
Historically, South Africa - Bangladesh series has been a mismatch but given the recent performances of Bangladesh, they are more than capable of shifting the tide in their favor. South Africa, on the other hand, have been tough to beat at home and we do not expect it to be different this time as well. Faf du Plessis has been brilliant as a captain for South Africa and with a fine team on paper, we expect the hosts to thump the visitors in the first game of the series