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Shakib Al Hasan backs Bangladesh to restrict high-flying South Africa batters in World Cup game

Mumbai: Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan believes an on-song South Africa are not impregnable and can be restricted to smaller totals in the World Cup like the Netherlands did, adding that he would need his fast bowlers over spinners to deliver.

Bangladesh, on a three-match losing streak, will face an uphill battle against South Africa here on Tuesday, who are coming off a 229-run thrashing of England and have recorded the two highest scores in the World Cup in four matches already.

After posting a monumental 428 for five against Sri Lanka in New Delhi, South Africa piled up 399 for seven against England. South Africa also had a good batting day against Australia, putting 311 for seven and their only blip with the bat came in the chase against the Netherlands, when they crumbled for 207 chasing 246 in a rain-truncated game.

Shakib told the media ahead of Bangladesh’s training here at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday, “The spinners will not play a big role in this venue, which is relatively a smaller ground. It is a high-scoring ground. Still, we are planning to restrict them for a lower total.”

“We are taking inspiration from how the Netherlands restricted them. We have been looking at their weaknesses for the last one or two years,” he added.

“We have to take it one game at a time. It does not matter if you win or lose your last game in a World Cup. What matters is who is performing better on the day,” said the Bangladesh captain.

“We saw South Africa flying high. We saw them lose to the Netherlands. They played brilliantly against England. We will prepare the way we usually prepare. We will try to play our best cricket and see where we are,” he added.

While ruling out Taskin Ahmed for the game owing to a shoulder injury, Shakib admitted Bangladesh fast bowlers are not in rhythm but hoped for a strong show.

“They have been doing well for a while. It does not matter if they are in rhythm, but how they bowl tomorrow. If we can all bowl, bat and field together, we can do something good. We believe that if we play our best cricket in ODIs, we can win against any team,” he said.

Bangladesh may have lost three games on the trot but they are placed in the middle of the points table, at the fifth spot. Shakib says with their own strong performances combined with favourable results of other games, Bangladesh can keep their hopes alive of making it past the league stage round.

“We have five matches in hand, if we win the match tomorrow, we will get into a great momentum. Though we did not win many games, we are not in a bad position in the points table. Other teams are helping me, so now we have to help ourselves,” he said.

Shakib said he felt okay during the team’s training sessions over the last two days in which he mostly batted, but also bowled some left-arm seam on Monday.

“I felt nothing at all when I was training yesterday. I will hopefully be able to get through this training session without pain, and be good to go,” said Shakib, adding that he missed the game against India in Pune last week as he was not 100 per cent fit.

Admitting that playing in Mumbai’s October heat would be extremely difficult as the players from England and South Africa struggled last Saturday, Shakib said Bangladesh, despite their familiarity with heat and humidity, will find it tough.

“We want to rest and hydrate, take care of ourselves. We saw England and South Africa suffer in the weather. We are used to hot weather but it will not be easy for us,” he said.

“The weather will treat both teams equally. Humidity is the major problem. No matter how much water you drink, you still lose fluid from your body. You get tired quickly, and you can get cramps,” he added.

Despite the World Cup being played on mostly placid tracks that are batting friendly, Bangladesh have struggled to put big scores on the board. Their total of 256 for eight against India was their highest in the tournament so far.

Shakib hoped for Bangladesh to break the trend against South Africa.

“We are not getting big runs. We are hopeful of scoring big. Please pray that we get big runs,” he said.

(Published 23 October 2023, 15:59 IST)

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