Dhaka: In a desperate battle for survival, Bangladesh face an uphill task against the rampaging South Africans in their final group match on Saturday to have any chance of making the World Cup quarterfinals.
Bangladesh`s chances of making the knockout stage of the mega-event were dented when England clinched an 18-run win against the West Indies in Chennai yesterday.
And now the Tigers face an uphill task of beating the strong Protean side in order to have any hopes of advancing further in the event.
With eight points from five games, South Africa are the only team from Group B to have qualified for the quarterfinals. Otherwise the group is wide open with four teams -- India, West Indies, Bangladesh and England --fighting for the rest of the three spots.
According to the equation, if Bangladesh lose to South Africa, their poor net run-rate of -0.765 will in all
probability end their campaign in this World Cup, unless India get the better of the Windies by a huge margin in Chennai on Sunday.
Bangladesh are well aware that they start as underdogs against the South Africans, who have won 12 of their 13 ODIs against them, five of those on their home soil, including a 3-0 sweep in 2008.
Bangladesh`s only win against the Proteas came in the Super Eight round of the last edition of the World Cup in the Caribbean when they registered a 67-run triumph on a turning track at Providence.
It was Mohammad Ashraful`s 87 that lifted Bangladesh to 251-8, before left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak took 3-25 to bundle out South Africa for a mere 184.
Keen to draw inspiration from that win, Bangladesh`s coach Jamie Siddons said although it would be difficult to beat the Proteans but his side would have the home advantage.
"Beating South Africa is not going to be easy as they are playing really good cricket and are a great team. But we have the advantage of playing at home. We need to play well and put ourselves in with a chance," said the coach ahead of their make-or-break battle.
Bangladesh would be banking on their openers – Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes -- and skipper Shakib Al Hasan to come good.
And although Tamim has not been very consistent, Kayes is in form and Shakib has shown his ability with both the bat and ball.
As far as their bowling is concerned, Shafiul Islam and Abdur Razzak have done reasonably well so far.
On the other hand, South Africa, who undoubtedly start as favourites tomorrow, would look to polish up their preparations for the crucial knockout stage ahead.
They are likely to experiment with their playing XI against the minnows in order to give rest to the key players, while giving a chance to the reserves.
Pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who picked up a minor side strain against Ireland, is likely to be rested, with seamers Lonwabo Tsotsobe and Wayne Parnell making their way into the side.
South Africa may also be keen to give enough rest to leg-spinner Imran Tahir who has recovered from a fractured thumb, and AB de Villiers, who missed the game against Ireland with a thigh muscle strain, so that they are fit for the bigger battles during the next fortnight.
Going into Saturday`s game, it will be on their own peril that the South Africans will under-estimate their opponents, who would play in front of 25,000 fanatical supporters here at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.
South Africa: Graeme Smith (c), Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Morne van Wyk (wk), Johan Botha, Robin Peterson, Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Wayne Parnell, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Imran Tahir and Colin Ingram.
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique, Shahriar Nafees, Raqibul Hasan, Mohammad Ashraful, Mushfiqur Rahim, Naeem Islam, Mohammad Mahmudullah, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Nazmul Hossain, Suhrawadi Shuvo.
Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Daryl Harper (AUS)
TV umpire: Rod Tucker (AUS)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)
Match start: 0900 IST.