South Africa has another opportunity to extend its nine-year unbeaten run away from home when it takes on Bangladesh in the first Test match in Chittagong on Tuesday. The Proteas haven’t lost a series away from home since 2006, and have only suffered series defeats to Australia at home in 2008 and 2014 since then. While the One-Day International (ODI) series defeat was a poor slip-up by the South Africans, captain, Hashim Amla says the Test whites bring on an entirely different challenge to the contest: ‘Test cricket is a different format. We have quite a few new guys in the team, guys who haven’t played a lot of Test cricket and Dale (Steyn) and Vernon (Philander) who didn’t play in the ODI’s. What the ODI series has done is given us an awareness of what playing in Chittagong will be like.’
The skipper hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a debutant, and says this series will be a valuable learning experience of playing Test cricket abroad for the younger players in the squad. Amla says: ‘We have been playing good Test cricket over the last couple of years. From my perspective we have a lot of new faces mixed with a lot of guys who have played many Test matches. I’m hoping the new guys get an understanding of what Test cricket is like in Bangladesh and for some of us (senior players) to put in some big performances to allow them to grow in Test cricket. We are a team in transition and we’ll see that now more than ever. We have to try and get the team together to grow over the next couple of years.’ Dale Steyn is currently on 396 Test wickets and on the brink of becoming only the second South African after Shaun Pollock and the 13th overall to pass the magical 400 mark.
Amla says: ‘To take 400 Test wickets is something that is extremely special. We know he has been a special bowler for us in crucial times, and probably in every match that he has played for us he has made some contribution. Hopefully if he gets there during this series; there is no doubt that everybody will really enjoy the success that he gets because we know the amount of work that he has put in and the impact he has had on this team.’