Afghanistan were putting up a good fight in the initial phases of the ICC Cricket World Cup clash against South Africa in Cardiff on Saturday. However, a disastrous collapse of 6/21 in the middle overs, primarily due to Chris Morris’ 3/13 and Imran Tahir’s 4/29 saw Afghanistan lose their way. A total of 125 was never going to challenge the Proteas and a solid 68 from Quinton de Kock ensured South Africa had registered their first win in the tournament in emphatic fashion as they finally got going. For Afghanistan, it was yet again a case of making a bright start but losing their way completely towards the end.
With so much of rain in the last couple of days, South Africa had no hesitation in bowling after they won the toss. However, much to their surprise, the Afghanistan openers put up a solid display against the pace of Kagiso Rabada and Beuran Hendricks. Hazratullah Zazai and Noor Ali Zadran scored at a strike-rate of over 100 before a short rain break broke their momentum.
Following the rain delay, Rabada got rid of Zazai and Rahmat Shah’s struggles ended when he was trapped in front by Morris for a 22-ball six. Noor Ali held firm before the second rain delay, which lasted for an hour, resulted in the game being curtailed to 48 overs. However, this time the rain had a massive impact on Afghanistan’s progress as they collapsed sensationally.
Immediately after the resumption, Andile Phehlukwayo got rid of Hashmatullah Shahidi while Imran Tahir struck twice, removing Noor Ali Zadran for 32 and Asghar Afghan for 0. Phehlukwayo struck again by removing Mohammad Nabi and when Tahir sent back skipper Gulbadin Naib, Afghanistan were in real danger of not reaching 100. However, Rashid Khan’s entertaining cameo ensured Afghanistan could at least get past three figures.
Rashid got going with two boundaries off Rabada and he regularly found the boundaries as Afghanistan aimed to get past 150. After hitting two more fours off Tahir, Rashid perished for 35 off 25 balls and Morris wrapped up the tail to bowl Afghanistan out for 125.
In response, Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock started slowly as they looked to negotiate the early swing and bounce on offer with the new ball. After negotiating the first powerplay in which only 35 runs were scored in the first 10 overs, Amla and de Kock opened up and played more aggressively. De Kock reached his fifty with a couple of fours off Rashid while Amla also looked in solid touch. Although Naib got the wicket of de Kock for 68, it did little to derail South Africa as they coasted to victory and register an emphatic win in a crucial stage of the tournament.