Having failed to defend a massive total of 229 that they put up against England, South Africa face a must win situation when they take on Afghanistan on Sunday. They will be favourites to win the match without doubt, but their target would be put in a convincing performance so that not only do they stay alive in the event, but also get back some level of confidence going into the bigger games. As for Afghanistan, they will be keen to learn more lessons on the international stage, and display further improvements after a decent display against Sri Lanka.
The match at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai will be significant for the South African bowlers as they will look to put up a better effort than he did against England, although it must be admitted that bowlers from both sides struggled to contain the batsmen in the high-scoring game. Dale Steyn’s comeback was not a memorable one so he must be seeking relief from pressure. The same however applies to the other bowlers as well, who were also taken for plenty – Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Kyle Abbott and JP Duminy as well. As a unit, they will need to strangle Afghanistan’s batting.
While the South African bowling was poor, their batting was equally spectacular against England. Quinton de Kock got the team off to a brilliant start, with a scintillating half-century. Hashim Amla also came up with a quick fifty, as the openers got the side off to a scintillating start. Duminy also played a big-hitting knock which took South Africa to what seemed like a formidable score. Towards the end, David Miller came in, and also got the desired big hits. The experienced AB de Villiers and skipper Faf du Plessis failed, so they will be looking to make amends.
In comparison, Afghanistan’s batting and bowling stood exposed against an inspired Sri Lankan side. But then, they were never expected to win. They batted very well to recover from a poor start. Skipper Asghar Stanikzai led from the front with 62 from 47 while Samiullah Shenwari blasted 31 from merely 14 balls. The late onslaught Afghanistan a decent score to defend. Afghanistan would want the other batsmen to put their hand up and deliver against the Proteas. Mohammad Shahzad had a rare failure, and Mohammad Nabi as well. Noor Ali Zadran got a start, but did not carry on.
Afghanistan must need to put up much better show with the ball and in the field. Opening bowlers Karim Sadaq and Hamid Hassan went for plenty against Sri Lanka while even Dawlat Zadran failed to make an impression. Nabi and 17-year-old spinner Rashid Khan however made an impression, and would look to continue their good work. Having said that, Afghanistan were extremely poor in the field, and crumbled under pressure as Tillakarante Dilshan and Angelo Mathews took them on. This is one aspect where they need to improve significantly. South Africa begin as favourites surely, but Afghanistan will look to make an impression.
--By A Cricket Analyst