Proteas have one eye on Australia

2008-11-18 00:00

BLOEMFONTEIN — South Africa face Bangladesh today with one eye on the rear view mirror as a critical test series with Australia approaches.

The ICC’s third-ranked team will field their full-strength lineup in two tests against last-placed Bangladesh as a final warm-up before a three-test series in Australia, starting on December 17.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith said he was looking for his side to produce top-class cricket no matter the opposition they will face in Bloemfontein.

“The six days before the first test in Australia are still going to be the most crucial in terms of preparation, but I would like to see us having real control against Bangladesh and playing in the sort of style we want to against Australia.

“We want to see progression in the series against Bangladesh,” Smith told a news conference in Bloemfontein yesterday, on the eve of the first of the two tests.

Bangladesh, already suffering defections to the unofficial Indian Cricket League, will have to replace left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak, who only returned from Australia, where he had tests on an illegal bowling action, late yesterday.

Leading pace bowler Mashrafe Mortaza is also doubtful after suffering a back strain and left-arm seamer Syed Rasel has returned home with a similar complaint.

Bangladesh captain Mohammad Ashraful said his batsmen had used the second one-day international against South Africa in Benoni 10 days ago to work on their technique against Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

South Africa won the limited-overs series 2-0, the third one-dayer being washed out, and triumphed in Benoni by 128 runs.

“South Africa made too many runs (358) and after we lost four wickets we just decided to bat out the 50 overs and make sure Steyn and Morkel each had to bowl 10, which gave us a lot of experience against them,” said Ashraful.

Makhaya Ntini, dropped from South Africa’s limited-overs team, returns to join Steyn, Morkel and Jacques Kallis in a powerful pace bowling attack.

Smith said they would aim to tear through a Bangladesh batting lineup that has never scored more than 259 in a test innings against the Proteas, ahead of the stiffer challenge against Australia.

Today’s test will be South Africa’s fourth in Bloemfontein, where they have never lost.

— Reuters.

Squads

South Africa: Graeme Smith, Ashwell Prince, Hashim Amla, Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Paul Harris, Jacques Kallis, Neil McKenzie, Morne Morkel, Makhaya Ntini, Dale Steyn, Monde Zondeki.

Bangladesh: Mohammad Ashraful, Mashrafe Mortaza, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Mahbubul Alam, Mehrab Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Naeem Islam, Nazmul Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Shakib al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal.

TV: live on SABC1 and Supersport 2 from 10 am.

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