This was a game of huge importance in the Unacademy Road Safety World Series tournament. South Africa Legends win this game and seal a place for themselves in the semi-finals of the tournament. And that is exactly what they did as they defeated Bangladesh Legends by 10 wickets and taking home all 4 points.
Having been sent out to bat first by the Proteas, Bangladesh Legends took the challenge head-on in an attempt to make an impression in their final game of the tournament. Most of the Bangladesh Legends' batsmen had starts but none of them could convert them into big scores. Aftab Ahmed scored 39 runs off 24 balls, and in-form Nazimuddin scored 32 off 33 deliveries. Hanan Sarkar also made a useful 36 off 31 balls. These were all vital contributions and for the first time in the tournament, the Bangladesh Legends looked like a team that would post a total above the 160-run mark. However, lack of depth in the batting order reared its ugly head yet again, meaning that a really promising start was for naught. The Tigers still managed a very decent 160 for the loss of 9 wickets, but with a little more help they could have reached the 180-run mark.
It was a difficult start but the South African bowling unit gave a praiseworthy performance especially in the back end of the Bangladesh batting innings. They choked them for runs, drawing out risky shots, and then picked off the batsmen one by one. In fact, the Bangladesh Legends lost 6 wickets for just 42 runs before their stipulated 20 overs. Makhaya Ntini took 2 wickets while giving away just 26 runs, and Thandi Tshabalala returned figures of 2/33.
With a target of 161 to win, South Africa Legends presented an exhibition in chasing down targets. Morne Van Wyk and Andrew Puttick stitched a record unbeaten partnership of 161 for the first wicket, making it the highest total by any pair in the tournaments short history. Puttick played the role of the aggressor as he scored 82 off just 54 deliveries, a knock that was studded with nine hits to the fence and one over it. Van Wyk motored the chase brilliantly as well, playing the second fiddle to brilliant effect. He also scored 69 off 62 balls, hitting nine fours along the way. There were some nervy moments at one point but Puttick and van Wyk ensured they was nothing to worry about in the end.
The Bangladesh Legends bowling attack looked quite toothless in front of a stubborn Proteas opening pair. They were milked for ones and twos continuously by Puttick and Van Wyk. The Bangladesh bowlers were quite economical, but the lack of wickets cost them dearly.
It wasn't really end-to-end, with the game being completely dominated by the Proteas in the second half. Bangladesh's dearth of finishers had been a problem since day one, and it showed up this time as well. They bow out of the tournament without a win, but it was a great experience seeing them have a go at it. South Africa Legends dropped yet another masterclass, and left very little to criticise. They will face the Sri Lanka Legends and will need to be at 100% if they are to beat an opponent of that calibre.
Overall, the penultimate game of the Unacademy Road Safety World Series has been an exciting one, just like the ones before it!
Brief scores :
South Africa Legends 161/0 from 19.2 overs (A. Puttick 82*(54), M. Van Wyk 69*(62), A. Kabir 0/15) beat Bangladesh Legends 160/9 (A. Ahmed 39(24), H. Sarkar 36(31); M. Ntini 2/26, T. Tshabalala 2/33) by 10 wickets.