Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Proteas gear up for ‘massive’ game against Bangladesh

The SA team cannot afford to slip up again in their quest for the World Cup semi-finals.

Despite facing one of the lower-ranked teams in the tournament in Mumbai on Tuesday, the Proteas don’t need any reminders about the need to take their Cricket World Cup match against Bangladesh as seriously as they would any other opposition.

They are five places above their opponents in the ODI world rankings, but South Africa lost to Bangladesh in the group stages of the 2019 World Cup. And the SA team were reminded again to respect all opposition when they were defeated by the Netherlands at the global showpiece in India last week.

Having bounced back to thump defending champions England at the weekend, the Proteas were lying third in the opening round after raking in six points from four matches.

While they were four points behind unbeaten hosts India and two points behind New Zealand, the SA team held a game in hand and were still well in contention for a place in the semi-finals.

With five round-robin games still remaining before the playoffs, however, including clashes with India, New Zealand and Pakistan, they could not afford another slip-up against a lower-ranked side.

“Whenever we play Bangladesh, it’s obviously a massive game for us,” Proteas vice-captain Aiden Markram said on Monday.

“We haven’t done particularly well against them in the past, so that’s extra motivation for us to come out and replicate what was a good performance against England.”

Clean slate

While they thumped the defending champions in their last World Cup match, Markram said the Proteas saw each game as a clean slate and they couldn’t carry much from that performance into this fixture, aside from a boost in confidence.

“You have to respect the fact that it’s a new game of cricket starting tomorrow, and against opposition that’s become a really good white ball team, and then put them into subcontinent conditions – obviously that aids them very well as well,” said Markram, who will captain the Proteas if Temba Bavuma does not recover in time from illness.

“And we have to respect that fact. You can never take form as an individual or as a team for granted. “It’s about us coming here tomorrow with positive mindsets, taking confidence that we can take, but understanding that we have to replicate that all again to hopefully get a good result.”

The match between South Africa and Bangladesh starts at 10.30am (SA time).

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