Like India and Pakistan, South Africa were also shocked by Bangladesh in the one-day series. The frequency with which Bangladesh have been defeating Test sides at home, the time has come to stop using the term shocked when Bangladesh beat an opponent in one-dayers or T20s. At the same time, if Bangladesh manage to get the better of South Africa in the Tests, it would indeed be a massive upset. Bangladesh have never come close to beating the Proteas in a Test match either home or away. But then, there is always a first time, Bangladesh are in a good position to do the same in the first Test.
If indeed South Africa end up losing the first Test, they will look back and be disappointed with their batting performance. Not only in the first innings of the Tests, but throughout the tour, the batting has been letting South Africa down. Their batters did not have to do much in the first one-dayer thanks to Kagiso Rabada's historic feat with a ball. However, in the next two games, they were completely blown away by Bangladesh's bowling prowess, and were majorly responsible for the team's loss in the series.
Heading into the first Test, South Africa must have hoped for a change in fortunes, particularly with a lot a new faces coming in to join the team. But, that did not quite prove to be the case in the first innings. Their poor habit of getting out after getting their eye in continued even though the people in charge of the batting department had changed, most of them. Opening the innings, Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl got the team off to a confident start, but fell in the 30s and 40s, which is not good enough in a Test match. In a way, they set the trend of sorts, for the batsmen to follow.
Considering the inexperience in the batting order, a lot will depend on skipper Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis. The experienced duo haven't been at their best in the series so far. Faf has got some starts and looked good, but the Proteas need big scores from him, which aren't coming. The biggest setback for the visitors has been the form of captain Amla. The man who has been the lynchpin of the team over the last few years, has just hasn't looked in any sort of rhythm. The fact that his poor run of scores are coming at a time when their best batsman AB de Villiers is resting has hurt the team even more.
The one positive for South Africa from the opening day of the first Test was the form of Temba Bavuma. He got a half-century, but even he failed to carry on. The poor run of scores for JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock continued, and that would be a massive cause of concern for South Africa, especially since bigger challenges lie ahead. The manner in which they batted on the opening day pointed towards the fact that they weren't quite confident of their abilities. This was evident in some of the dismissals. Mustafizur Rahman seems to have developed a reputation of being a man who can run through opponents, and South Africa must find a way to deal with him. It's definitely soul-searching time for the Proteas.
--By A Cricket Analyst