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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 July 2024

ICC Men's World Cup: Afghanistan aim to brighten semis chances, South Africa seek perfect chase

A lot more is at stake for Afghanistan than South Africa, who have already made the semifinals alongside India and Australia

Our Web Desk Published 10.11.23, 12:01 PM

TTO graphics

  • Azmatullah shine as Afghanistan set 245-run target against South Africa
  • OUT! Phehlukwayo strikes as Rashid Khan departs. Afghanistan 160/7 in 38 overs
  • Azmatullah Omarzai reaches his fifty in 71 balls
  • OUT! Ngidi strikes as Nabi departs for 2. Afghanistan 116/6 in 28 overs
  • OUT! Coetzee gets his second wicket as Alikhil departs. Afghanistan 113/5 in 27 overs
  • Lungi Ngidi strikes as Rahmat Shah departs for 26. Afghanistan 100/4 in 25 overs
  • Maharaj strikers again as Hashmatullah departs 2. Afghanistan 45/3 in 11 overs
  • Coetzee strikes as Zadran departs for 15. Afghanistan 41/2 in 10 overs
  • Keshav Maharaj strikes as Gurbaz departs for 25. Afghanistan 41/1 in 9 overs
  • Afghanistan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss and decided to bat against South Africa in their must-win match
  • The Proteas have brought in Andile Phehlukwayo and Gerald Coetzee in place of Tabraiz Shamsi and Marco Jansen, who have been rested
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  • Afghanistan, who are chasing an improbable semifinal spot, are unchanged

Teams

Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi(c), Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Ikram Alikhil(wk), Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq

South Africa: Quinton de Kock(wk), Temba Bavuma(c), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, Andile Phehlukwayo, David Miller, Gerald Coetzee, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi.

South Africa will look to fix their chasing troubles before the semifinals while Afghanistan will back themselves to beat another top team when the two sides meet in a World Cup game here on Friday, reports PTI.

A lot more is at stake for Afghanistan than South Africa, who have already made the semifinals alongside India and Australia.

With eight points each, Afghanistan are battling for the fourth spot with Pakistan and New Zealand. Only a win over the Proteas will keep them in the hunt.

The Afghans also have an inferior net run rate compared to Pakistan and New Zealand, therefore, they need to win big and hope the other results go their way.

Irrespective of the result on Friday, Afghanistan have earned tremendous respect with their mature play in the tournament, having racked up four wins from eight games.

They now have the belief to beat the best in the business on any given day. After humbling England and Pakistan, the Hasmatullah Shahidi-led side was on the cusp of a famous win over five-time champions Australia before Glenn Maxwell came up with a superhuman knock.

The improbable defeat left Afghans heartbroken and they now need to pick themselves up to give their best shot at a semifinal berth.

Batting first, South Africa have been the best batting unit in the tournament. Therefore, Shahidi will be hoping to win the toss, put runs on the board and choke South Africa in their chase.

South Africa's flamboyance has made way for tentativeness while chasing in the competition. Afghanistan's match-winning spinners will back themselves to exploit that apparent weakness.

Spin has been the team's strength over the years but now it can also expect breakthroughs from the pacers. With a little help on offer, Naveen Ul Haq and all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai delivered with the new ball against Australia to rattle the opposition.

Afghanistan batting, which has been its weak link, has come of age in the tournament. Batters like Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah and captain Shahidi himself know how to play the situations, while batting first or chasing.

The team, however, expects more from opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who has not been consistent enough, and veteran Mohammd Nabi, who has not yet made an impact with the bat.

Pressure mounting on Temba Bavuma

While Quinton de Kock has piled on the runs in his swansong, South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma has not led from the front at the top of the order. Bavuma missed two games due to illness and Reeza Hendricks grabbed his opportunity with both hands.

Dropping the skipper in the middle of the tournament is highly unlikely but Bavuma must be feeling the pressure. Before the semifinals, the Afghanistan game is an ideal opportunity for him to get back amongst the runs.

David Miller is among the top finishers in the game but is yet to peak in the World Cup. The southpaw will be looking to get into the groove before the knock-out stage.

Left-arm pacer Marco Jansen has been a valuable addition to the side but needs to improve on his economy rate. Left-spinner Keshav Maharaj has been their go to bowl in the middle overs. It remains to be seen if the Proteas go in with the extra spin option of Tabraiz Shamsi, who is often guilty of bowling pressure releasing balls in the middle of a testing spell.

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