Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-You have heard this before, but what the hell: Bangladesh will make tough opponents for South Africa, particularly in their home conditions and especially in the shorter formats.
That could be true. It could also be marketing dressed up as news, reports Times Live.
After all, who is excited by the prospect of watching games against Bangladesh at odd hours?
Without, that is, a helpful nudge from the media.
But Proteas coach Russell Domingo stuck to the script this week: “I’ve been to Bangladesh four times and this is the most excited I have ever been. We need to start playing cricket again.”
There is no quibbling with the fact that Bangladesh have won six of their last seven one-day internationals at home – and beaten proper teams such as Pakistan and India.
What is more, South Africa will be without AB de Villiers, Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morné Morkel in the two T20s – the first of which is on Sunday – and three ODIs.
Thus it will be an ideal time for South Africa to blood players like Eddie Leie, Kagiso Rabada, David Wiese, Beuran Hendricks and Chris Morris with an eye on the World T20 in India in March.
Domingo said: “It’s always exciting to get some young blood into sides; new energy and new ideas.”
So far, so factual. Now for the parts left out.
Bangladesh have lost 10 of the 15 T20s they have played at home, and only one of their five wins has been achieved against decent opposition: Pakistan. South Africa should have little trouble winning on Sunday.
Since readmission and across all formats, South Africa have a better win-to-loss record in the first match of a series than at any other stage of a rubber. They have won 89 and lost 40 of the 156 games they have played first, a positive ratio of 2.225.
South Africa are most vulnerable in the second game, where their win-loss ratio slips to a low of 1.482.
They tend to bounce back in the third match, where the magic number is 2.193 – their second-highest mark.
Fact beats fiction every time, which is almost as often as South Africa have had the better of Bangladesh: in 23 of 24 games.
Tough opposition? Really?