The Proteas have been on a bit of a cricketing hiatus since their World Cup ended in that exciting semi-final in New Zealand, but the men in green and gold returned to the field this week, playing and winning both the opening T20 matches of their Bangladesh tour in comfortable fashion.
The cricket got underway on July 5th at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka. In the first of two T20 matches against the Bengalis, the Proteas made easy work of the homeside. South Africa won the toss and elected to bat first. Although the opening duo of AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock only managed a combined 14 runs off as many balls, Faf du Plessis was able to step in a guide the South African inning. Du Plessis knocked in 79 runs off just 61 balls, including 8 fours without being dismissed. Bloemfontein native Rilee Rossouw stepped to the crease after David Miller was dismissed lbw by Shakib Al Hasan after managing a single run. Rossouw shored up the batting for South Africa by scoring 31 runs off 21 balls not out. The South Africans totaled a respectable 7.40 runs per over when it was all said and done leaving Bangladesh to chase down 149.
If the South African bats did not look overly sharp, their bowling made up for it. Shakib Al Hasan was the highest scorer for Bangladesh yet only had 26 runs before being caught by David Weise. JP Duminy was excellent with the ball in his hands, a positive sight after a rather disastrous IPL. Duminy bowled 4 overs and only gave up 11 runs while claiming 2 wickets, and an economy of 2.75. Kagiso Rabada, the 20-year old wonderboy, had quite the start to a tour which has turned him into a sensation in a mere week. The fast bowler took 2 wickets during his three overs, dismissing Mortaza and Sarkar. With eight Bangladeshis managing only single digit run totals, the first T20 was in the books quite quickly for the Proteas who won by 52 runs, 148/4 to 96/10. A great way to kick off the tour and begin a busy summer of cricket for South Africa.
Two days later was more of the same when the two countries met again in Dhaka for the second and final T20. Although the batting was a bit better for both teams, South Africa managed to ease to another 31 run win and claim the series. The opening pair of de Villiers and de Kock put on a far better display than they did in the first match. De Kock scored 44 runs while de Villiers notched 40 runs. Kyle Abbott bowled 3.2 overs grabbing 3 wickets in the process. The home team failed to put together a partnership to really rival the South Africans, especially when Rahman and Hossain were dismissed back to back after scoring just a single run.
The series win puts the Proteas in a good position to continue to dominate the tour as it moves to the ODI and Test format through the rest of the month. The tour shouldn’t be much trouble for the Proteas, but will provide a good warm up to the much anticipated incoming tour against New Zealand in August that ought to be a much more difficult challenge.