ICC World Cup 2023: Competitive Afghanistan Bow Out After Loss to South Africa
Rassie van der Dussen's fighting knock helped South Africa overcome the Afghanistan challenge in Ahmedabad at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023.
The second innings of the game was fiercely contested between the Afghanistan bowlers and the South Africa batters, with the latter coming out on top at the very end.
Rassie van der Dussen (76*) starred for South Africa with a splendid innings, whereas old hands Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi were the stars for Afghanistan.
In the first innings, Azmatullah Omarzai's fighting 97* helped Afghanistan finish strongly after South Africa had dominated for the majority of the innings.
Gerald Coetzee (4/44) and Keshav Maharaj (2/25) shined for the Proteas.
With this defeat, Afghanistan bow out of the World Cup.
The South Africa openers were among the runs from the very beginning. Quinton de Kock was particularly aggressive, hitting two fours and three sixes in the first Powerplay. Temba Bavuma experienced some issues with his hamstring but managed to stick around at the crease.
Afghanistan struck back early in the second Powerplay. Bavuma fell while trying to clear Mujeeb Ur Rahman past deep mid-wicket. Then in the 14th over, Mohammad Nabi trapped Quinton de Kock leg before wicket. While the on-field umpire didn't agree with that call, Afghanistan succeeded in getting a wicket after a review.
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.
He got rid of Markram (25) in the 24th over. The batter ended up pulling a catch towards the covers. A few overs later, the dangerous Heinrich Klaasen was cleaned up.
The set van der Dussen got decent support from David Miller, as the duo batted out the next few anxious deliveries, and then got back into the groove once more. Their stand helped blunt the impact of Afghanistan tweakers, even as the Proteas gradually moved towards their target.
However, Afghanistan got a timely breakthrough in the 38th over when Miller (24) pushed one back to Nabi. The Afghanistan spinners were able to stifle the scoring rate, and the South Africa chase depended predominantly on van der Dussen's stay at the crease.
The batter managed to stave off the spin challenge, and along with Phehlukwayo (39*) helped South Africa to a five-wicket win.
Afghanistan openers backed the call of their skipper with yet another steady start. While there were a few close calls, including a tough chance that Keshav Maharaj spilled in the covers, Afghanistan ensured that the scoring rate was healthy.
But it was Maharaj who eventually brought the Proteas their first breakthrough. Off his very first ball, he induced a thin edge off the willow of Rahmanullah Gurbaz (25) which was snapped by Heinrich Klaasen at the first slip.
Off the very next over, Gerald Coetzee snared the previous match's centurion, Ibrahim Zadran, for 15. He got Ibrahim to nick one behind the wicket. From 41/0 at the end of eight overs, Afghanistan had lost two without scoring a run over the next twelve balls.
Wickets continued to tumble as Maharaj struck in his second over as well, this time taking care of Hashmatullah Shahidi. The batter edging to Quinton de Kock, and soon Afghanistan were three down for not too many.
Afghanistan No. 3 Rahmat Shah and all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai then joined hands to stabilise the innings. Only two boundaries were hit in the 11-20 over mark, but Afghanistan proceeded without any further losses.
Just when the duo was picking pace, Rahmat fell to a brilliant catch at backward point by David Miller. He hit straight to the fielder, and Miller couldn't quite get to the ball initially. The fielder juggled and struggled with the ball, before eventually holding on.
Rahmat’s wicket brought the Proteas back into the game, and the pacers ran through the Afghanistan middle-order. Ikram Alikhil tried to lift the scoring pace with his attacking intent, but was soon sent back after he nicked one off Coetzee.
In the very next over, Lungi Ngidi picked his second breakthrough, getting Mohammad Nabi to edge one behind the wicket.
Azmatullah then took charge and helped Afghanistan move ahead. He reached a patient half-century in the 37th over. From 116/6, he added 44 runs for the seventh wicket with Rashid Khan (14). And after Rashid fell, he continued fighting with the positive Noor Ahmad (26).
With the Afghanistan tail, Azmatullah added 71 runs in the final powerplay, even as the South Africa bowlers erred in their lines and lengths.
Hashmatullah Shahidi called it right at the toss and elected to bat first. His reasoning centered around the belief that the wicket would probably turn later in the day.