AHMEDABAD: An unbeaten knock from Rassie van der Dussen helped South Africa beat Afghanistan by five wickets in Ahmedabad at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
Proteas achieved the 245-run target in 47.3 overs, brining the Afghanistan’s World Cup campaign to an end.
The South Africa openers were among the runs from the very beginning. Quinton de Kock was particularly aggressive, while Temba Bavuma experienced some issues with his hamstring.
Afghanistan struck back early in the second Powerplay when Bavuma fell for 23. Then in the 14th over, Mohammad Nabi trapped Quinton de Kock leg before wicket.
Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram then took South Africa ahead with a steady stand. The duo hit a number of confident shots, even as the Proteas improved their scoring rate. However, Rashid’s special spell got two important breakthroughs for his team.
Heinrich Klaasen fell for 10, while David Miller tried to extend support to Dussen but he was dismissed by Mohammad Nabi for 25.
Later, Andile Phehlukwayo joined Dussen at the crease and they jointly pulled the win for their side.
Earlier, a magical bowling spell from South Africa’s Gerald Coetzee restricted Afghanistan from posting a challenging total in Ahmedabad.
Hasmat Shahidi’s side set a target of 245 runs for Proteas, thanks to blitz from middle-order player Azmat Omarzai, who smashed
Afghanistan openers backed the call of their skipper with yet another steady start. However, the Proteas managed to get their first breakthrough when opener Ibrahim Zadran was snared by Coetzee for 15.
Afghanistan lost second wicket when Rahmanullah Gurbaz wa s dismissed by Maharaj. Wickets continued to tumble as Maharaj struck in his second over as well, this time removing Hashmatullah Shahidi for cheap runs.
Afghanistan No. 3 Rahmat Shah fell for 26. At this point all-round Azmatullah Omarzai reached the crease and smashed much-need 97 to boost the total. During this campaign, he got a little support from fellow players except tail order Noor Ahmad, who made 26.
Afghanistan have been one of the surprise packets of the tournament with four stirring triumphs so far at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, but now have arguably the most important match in their cricket history to come with a spot in the knockout stages on the line.
Hashmatullah Shahidi’s side looked on track to clinch a critical fifth win in their last encounter until coming across a rampaging Glenn Maxwell who took the game away in Australia’s favour.
Victory in that clash, which would have been Afghanistan’s fourth on the trot, would have pushed the emerging side into the top four and two points ahead of fellow semi-final contenders New Zealand and Pakistan.
But as it stands, Afghanistan enter this contest sitting in sixth place and crucially well behind those two other teams on net run rate, in the race for the last place in the knockout stages.
South Africa present a daunting challenge for an Afghanistan side needing a win, after the Proteas surged into the semi-finals with big hitting and huge totals that fired a warning shot across the rest of the tournament.
Temba Bavuma’s side have little to play for with a semi-final showdown with Australia already assured, but South Africa will want to rediscover their top form before the stakes rise higher especially after a 243-run defeat to India in their last start.
South Africa squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.
Afghanistan squad: Hashmatullah Shahidi (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen ul Haq. -Agencies