AHMEDABAD: Two teams who suffered contrasting nature of defeats in their previous encounter – South Africa and Afghanistan – go head-to-head in a clash at the Narendra Modi Stadium, in Ahmedabad on Friday.
While maverick allrounder Glenn Maxwellfloored Afghanistan with a double century in Mumbai, the Proteas were undone by a clinical Indian side in Kolkata.While South Africa have already booked their place in the last four, New Zealand’s big win over Sri Lanka on Thursday has virtually knocked Afghanistan out.
Still, giant-killers Afghanistan will be itching to add another big team in their list of victims in this World Cup. So, don’t be surprised if we have a competitive game on Friday.
Against five-time champions Australia, Afghanistan were ahead for more than 70 overs of the game before a storm named Glenn Maxwell blew them away with an audacious display of boundary hitting. Recovering from such a loss is difficult. But, the turnaround between matches in modern day cricket is very less. Which is why, Afghanistan will look to focus on the positive brand of cricket which has seen them beat three former world champions.
Their openers – Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran – have provided solid opening stands allowing the likes of middle-order batters Hashmatullah Shahidi and Rahmat Shah to play without inhibition. And power hitting by allrounders like Azmatullah Omarzai, veteran Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan have given the impetus required in the late overs.
While defending a total, the Afghan bowler bamboozled England and almost pulled it off against Australia through some fantastic bowling in the powerplay. Besides, they have aced chases like pro. South Africa go into the last round robin clash chasing a win that sustains their momentum going into the semifinal, which is likely to be against Australia. Handed a reality check by the hosts in which their heavy-hitting batting unit folded for 83, the Proteas would again look to Quinton de Kock to provide the aggressive start in the powerplay.
Captain Temba Bavuma would be desperate to get a good score under his belt while the likes of Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klassen, David Miller and allrounder Marco Jensen would look to continue the positive batting that has dominated most opposition attacks in the tournament.
South Africa’s bowling has flown under the radar as their batting has sparkled in this tournament. But, against attacking batting units, their bowlers – Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Jensen and Gerald Coetzee – have bowled to a plan, and reaped rewards. Even when they went for runs against India, Keshav Maharaj delivered a classical spell of left-arm spin bowling, forcing India to alter their strategy.
The clash between the Afghan and African bowlers could well decide who comes out on top on Friday on what is expected to be a dewy evening in Ahmedabad as winter begins to set in slowly.