The Proteas are already staring down the barrel in this year’s World Cup after succumbing to a 21-run loss to Bangladesh at The Oval on Sunday.
It means they’ve already lost their first two matches and, with hot favourites India lying in wait in Southampton on Wednesday, it’s perfectly conceivable that Faf du Plessis and his men can start the tournament with a hat-trick of losses.
For Bangladesh, it’s their second Protea scalp in the tournament after 2007’s surprise win in Guyana.
What will be really galling for Ottis Gibson and his coaching staff is that their trump card for an assault on the trophy – a vaunted, potent bowling attack – failed to fire in this match.
The World Cup is the last place any team wants to have history written against them, but it’s a reality the attack will have to live with after they conceded 330/6.
Not only was it the first time that the Tigers passed 300 in an ODI against South Africa, it’s also their highest score ever in the tournament.
Put into bat by Faf du Plessis, the Bangladeshis played superbly, never resorting to much fanciness, merely punishing an attack that did little to confirm its pre-tournament billing.
In fact, Du Plessis only got four overs out of Lungi Ngidi, who then left the field with “discomfort in his left hamstring” for treatment.
Given that Dwaine Pretorius fielded for the rest of the innings, it would seem the strapping, but injury-prone quick’s problem is more than just “discomfort”.
After opener Soumya Sarkar gave Bangladesh a brilliant start, the classy, experienced duo of Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim added a magnificent 142 for the third wicket.
It was clinical and precise, with Shakib making 75 off 84 and Mushfiqur 78 off 80.
Their dismissals briefly brought South Africa back into the game, but the death bowlers simply didn’t have the nous to keep a lid on things.
Chris Morris in particular ended poorly in taking 2/73 from his 10.
Only Andile Phehlukwayo, who took 2/52, and to a lesser extent Imran Tahir (2/57) showed any consistent control.
To illustrate how badly the bowlers let the team down, the Proteas’ eventual total of 309/8 was actually the third highest of their season to date – that’s how reliant the team has been on the attack keeping totals in check.
Du Plessis was the mainstay of South Africa’s reply, making a sprightly 62 off 52, but his dismissal – a cracking delivery from Mehidy Hasan Mirza (1/44) – was a precursor to an innings where various batsmen played themselves in without capitalising.
Aiden Markram (45), JP Duminy (45), Rassie van der Dussen (41) and David Miller (38) all failed to kick on as a result of scoreboard pressure.
Skillful seamer Mustafizur Rahman (3/67) was expensive, but his excellent change-ups proved the difference between the sides as he snapped up three key wickets.