Depleted hosts South Africa will face a buoyant Bangladesh when the teams start the first of two Tests at Kingsmead in Durban on Thursday, with more history in the sights of the visitors after their victory in the One-Day International series.
South Africa are without a number of their regulars, including their entire first-choice pace bowling attack, after players with Indian Premier League contracts opted out of the series.
Also missing are batsmen Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen for what will be a new-look, inexperienced home line-up.
Captain Dean Elgar has tried to put a positive spin on it, but it is a setback for a Test side that has tended to blow hot and cold in recent times as it is.
“We have to make do with our next best that we have in the country, who I’m still very confident in,” Elgar told reporters.
“It’s a great opportunity for those guys to stand up and put those other players under pressure. I’m confident they can do that.”
Elgar says the team is determined to quickly erase the memory of a shock first-ever ODI series loss to Bangladesh earlier this month.
“What happened in the ODI series has hurt quite a lot of players. I wasn’t involved but I’m pretty hurt about the result. I’d like to think that has fuelled us,” he said.
“Our hunger is going to be right up there. We know this Bangladesh side is not one of old. They’re a new team with a westernised coaching staff who have changed their mindset with regards to how to play cricket in South Africa.”
That “westernised” technical team comes in the form of South African head coach Russell Domingo, and bowling coach Allan Donald, who will be well aware of the local conditions.
Bangladesh have lost all six previous Tests in South Africa, five of those by an innings and the other by 333 runs. But this current side has more resolve and are coming off an excellent 1-1 series draw in New Zealand in January.
“I think the Test series will be more challenging,” key Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan said. ”We all know that in ODIs we play cricket on true wickets.
“In Tests, teams take advantage of their (home) conditions, but as some of their main players are missing, we can be hopeful.”