Bangladesh’s spectacular batting collapse in the fourth innings in Durban, where they were bowled out for 53, largely overshadowed a wonderful bowling performance from their fast bowlers. It was only the fourth time Bangladesh took 20 wickets overseas, and the second time in the last three Tests when the fast bowlers have taken more than 10 wickets in the match.
Khaled Ahmed led the fightback in the first innings after South Africa got off to a good start. Ebadot Hossain bowled decently in both innings, while Taskin Ahmed fought off a shoulder injury that would eventually send him home, to take two crucial wickets in the second innings.
The fast bowlers’ improvement has been one of the eye-catching aspects of the Bangladesh team over the last couple of years. Allan Donald, their newest fast-bowling coach who is overseeing the South Africa tour as his first assignment, said that the Durban performance from the quicks was a formula for success for the second Test in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth) too, which begins on April 8.
“I think the Bangladesh seamers can be very proud of the way they conducted themselves in the first Test,” Donald said.
“I think we were feeling our way into it a little bit. Once we settled down, it was very good. We spoke about bowling in partnerships. It was a fantastic performance from all the seamers. The way Khaled got into the team, the way Ebadot bowled.
“It was even better in the second innings. I felt we bowled like a Test unit. The run-rate went down from 3.7 to 2.5. The way we took wickets at crucial times in that second innings to restrict South Africa to 273. I am very proud of the seamers. They kept coming all day long to keep the pressure up. If you are looking for a recipe for success, it doesn’t change here in St George’s Park.”
Donald especially praised Taskin for braving the pain of his shoulder injury during the fourth day’s play in Durban. Taskin removed Dean Elgar who was looking dangerous on 64, before adding Keshav Maharaj as he bowled 11 overs.
“We can’t speak highly enough of Taskin. I was so happy for him in the one-dayers at the way he led the bowling attack. He started getting a bit of niggle in his shoulder in the firs Test. It gradually got worse. He strapped it up in the second innings. He was willing to go even further and do the job for Bangladesh. We wish him well. We have Sri Lanka around the corner.
“It is an absolute pleasure working with the young guy. He is a great listener. He wants to learn. He has a proper engine in him. He keeps going through all that pain. The three of them were outstanding, especially Taskin who was in a lot of pain. Tells you a lot about his character and also about how much he cares for this team where the stakes were at its highest. The pain was at its highest,” said Donald.
As the highest wicket-taker at St George’s Park, Donald obviously knows enough about the venue to tell his bowlers what will - and what won’t - work here.
“It is a ground where you have to be very creative as a bowler. As the innings goes on, the track will get flatter. From a fast bowling perspective, you must have something up your sleeve. You have to put your hand up and be brave. Try different things. “Dale Steyn showed here few years ago against Australia on a flat pitch, that when the ball starts reversing, you can take wickets here. It is going to be tough work for the bowlers,” he said.
Donald also said that the afternoon wind can be disconcerting for the bowlers and fielders, and it is something that they are talking about and working on ahead of the second Test.
“You have to contend with the severe winds in Port Elizabeth. It comes around 12:30 to two o'clock over the scoreboard. Late in the afternoon it gets up to about 40-45kph. It is like a wind tunnel from the scoreboard, and it keeps swirling. As a bowler you feel you are with it, and all of a sudden you are against it. Someone has to do the dirty work (to bowl) into the wind. It is not going to be tough work.”