South Africa edged Afghanistan in what was bit of a seesaw battle in the 2023 World Cup clash at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday. Rassie van der Dussen scored a defiant half-century as South Africa prepared themselves for the big semi-final against Australia in Kolkata with a level-headed run-chase.
With Afghanistan requiring an improbable 400-run winning margin against the Proteas, Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss and batted first. Unlike most games, openers Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz couldn't turn up and so did Rahmat Shah. The middle-order also made a hash of it as the Proteas send Afghanistan spiralling down, reducing them to 116-6.
Azmatullah Omarzai stands up for Afghanistan but left stranded:
By the time Afghanistan plummeted to 116-6, Afghanistan knew their group-stage elimination had been sealed, but Azmatullah Omarzai knew he had to dig in to give their spinners something to bowl at. The Proteas, like their few other games, struggled to bowl out the tail quickly.
Despite having only Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmed, Naveen-ul-Haq, and Mujeeb ur Rahman for company, Omarzai helped Afghanistan add another 129 runs to the total. Nevertheless, Naveen-ul-Haq's last-ball run-out left Omarzai stranded at 97 when he thoroughly deserved a hundred.
Temba Bavuma continues to struggle:
South Africa started positively, thanks to Quinton de Kock, who pounced on anything loose. At the other end, Temba Bavuma was struggling with a hamstring injury sustained while fielding and eventually departed for a 28-ball 23. De Kock departed not too long after that, while Aiden Markram also made his way back to the pavilion after a 50-run stand with van der Dussen.
Afghanistan smelt blood when Heinrich Klaasen also lost his wicket as Rashid Khan made a mess of his stumps. It didn't take long for David Miller to take charge and he brought the Proteas back into the contest with a 43-run partnership with van der Dussen. At 182-5, with Miller also back in the hut, the match was back in the balance.
Just when it seemed like Afghanistan had done all their wrongs right from the nightmare outing against Australia in Mumbai, but Hashmatullah Shahidi dropped a catch off Andile Phehlukwayo's bat. The Proteas still needed 36 off 36 at that stage and coasted to the target with relative ease.
Phehlukwayo came back to bite Afghanistan with two sixes and a boundary to win the game, while van der Dussen stayed unbeaten at 76.