Hosts South Africa will aim to wrap up the ODI series against Bangladesh at home, while the tourists will hope to recreate the same form which helped them win the opening game at the same venue on March 18 and clinch an historic overseas series, when the two sides clash in the third and final match at SuperSport Park here later on Wednesday.
Bangladesh won the first ODI of the series after amassing a mammoth 314/7 at Centurion and then bundled out the Proteas for 276, but after succumbing to a loss, the hosts showcased the might of their pace attack in much more favourable conditions at the Wanderers in Johannesburg to win a low-scoring game by seven wickets and level the series.
They brought in the likes of Quinton de Kock, Wayne Parnell and Tabraiz Shamsi to bolster their ranks, and the return of the wicketkeeping stalwart made an impact, as he put the Bangladesh attack to the sword.
Kyle Verreynne’s assured unbeaten 58 at No.3 at Wanderers will also give the team management a lot of confidence. The Proteas are unlikely to tamper with a winning combination, with the series on the line and crucial ICC Cricket World Cup Super League points (CWCSL) points at stake.
Bangladesh will find solace in returning to Centurion, where conditions will be much more favourable in terms of their team combination.
Shakib Al Hasan staying to play the final match will also come as a major boost, after his wonderful showing at the same venue in the first contest, when Bangladesh picked up their first-ever ODI win on South African soil.
The visitors will back themselves to replicate a similar performance to the first ODI despite their struggles with the bat in Johannesburg, making the final match a potential nail-biter.
In the previous ODI at Wanderers, put into bat first on a tricky pitch, Bangladesh were rattled by the pace of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi. They were reduced to 34/5 and reaching the three-figure mark looked uncertain at one point.
But the Bangladeshi lower-order mounted a remarkable fight-back to bat out the 50 overs. Afif Hossain scored 72 as the tourists posted 194/9 on the board, with Rabada notching up the second five-wicket haul of his ODI career, ending with figures of 5/39.
In reply, Quinton de Kock was quick off the blocks, taking the attack to the Bangladesh pacers. Playing some fine shots, the wicketkeeper-batter brought up his 28th ODI half-century in only 26 deliveries. After South Africa lost De Kock as well as his opening partner Janneman Malan, Kyle Verreynne and skipper Temba Bavuma would then tick things over nicely for the hosts with an 82-run stand.
Bavuma would depart for 37, but the job was done as the Proteas won by seven wickets, to level the series 1-1.
“Resilience is obviously a big thing for us, in saying that we want to start the series well. It is never ideal going down in the first game and always kind of claw your way back into the series,” said South African skipper Temba Bavuma to ICC ahead of the deciding ODI.
“Whether it’s us kind of easing our way into a series, or lack of match intensity I’m not sure, but it’s not something we plan on doing. There are still areas we would like to improve on but we will take whatever momentum we have achieved in this victory.”
Bangladesh skipper Tamim Iqbal said that the team started on a positive note but the second game was a dampener. “Positive signs but hard to describe a game like this (the second ODI). I can blame the wicket and this and that, but at the end of the day, we have to take the blame.
“We all know, he (de Kock) will come out and take some chances… some days it will go with him. Some days it won’t. If you are chasing 250 and if he plays some shots and gets out, we will be very happy,” added Iqbal.