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South Africa Vs Bangladesh, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, Match 23: Three Key Battles To Look Forward To

After a 229-run shellacking of defending champions England in Mumbai, South Africa face a bruised Bangladesh at the same venue for their fifth ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match. Let's look at three key battles that could be decisive in the RSA vs BAN encounter

Heinrich Klaasen after scoring his century against England in Mumbai.
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As with all previous editions, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 is seeing fortunes fluctuate almost every day. South Africa were seemingly shell-shocked after suffering an upset at the hands of the spirited Dutch, but turned things around spectacularly on Saturday with a 229-run shellacking of defending champions England in Mumbai. The Proteas are back on the upswing and now face a bruised Bangladesh, who have lost three out of their four games so far, in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Scorecard | Match BlogFull Coverage)

While RSA are in a comfortable position with six points from four games, The Tigers find themselves in dire straits and need to win all five of their remaining games to make the semi-finals. Both teams were missing their captains in their previous matches. While middle-order batter Temba Bavuma did not play the clash against England due to illness, injury to his left quadricep forced all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan to sit out the all-important encounter against hosts India. 

Opening batter Aiden Markram and top-order batter Najmul Hossain Shanto led South Africa and Bangladesh, respectively in those games. It remains to be seen whether either of the two captains will return to the playing XI for the match on Tuesday.

Let's look at three key battles that could be decisive in the South Africa vs Bangladesh encounter:

Heinrich Klaasen Vs Mustafizur Rahman
Explosive South Africa batter Heinrich Klaasen is fresh off a magnificent century against England, which he rated as one of the best knocks in his career given the energy-sapping heat in Mumbai. With the match against Bangladesh slated at the same venue, coping with the heat again might be a challenge for Klaasen. But a bigger challenge might be to find the big hits against the wily left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman, who unleashes his deceptive slower balls and sharp yorkers on batters routinely at the death. Their battle in the slog overs could mark the difference between win and loss for either side.      

Marco Jansen Vs Mushfiqur Rahim
A fascinating battle of the tall, young, lanky left-arm seamer Marco Jansen against the diminutive veteran wicketkeeper-batter Mushfiqur Rahim awaits us. Jansen routinely gets more-than-usual bounce from a length, which could be hard to handle for Mushfiqur, who is short in stature but big on strokemaking. Jansen has picked up two wickets in each of RSA's four games so far, while Mushfiqur has looked good and scored 157 runs, including two half-centuries, at an average of 52.33 in the 2023 World Cup. If Jansen can see Mushfiqur's back early, it could expose the Bangladesh tail to SA's quality pace bowling. If Mushfiqur gets going, however, he can derail the Proteas' plans very quickly.  

Kagiso Rabada Vs Litton Das
The menace of Kagiso Rabada never ceases, regardless of the conditions. South Africa's strike fast bowler may not have lit the stage on fire yet in this WC, but he has done well enough to pose some serious questions. Rabada's 3/33 against Australia was instrumental in bundling out the five-time champions for 177, and the right-arm speedster is a headache for every opposition. But Bangladesh opener Litton Das has the propensity to cause headaches of his own, with his unfettered strokeplay and flair. Litton's duel with Rabada in the new-ball period could be an exciting, if not pivotal one to watch. 

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