South Africa defeated Afghanistan by nine wickets to register their first win of the 2019 ICC World Cup at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on Saturday. Skipper Faf du Plessis won the toss and asked Afghanistan to bat first before his bowlers bundled them out for 125.
Another rain-interrupted day, the match saw a prolonged delay which eventually led to a 48-over contest. While Afghanistan were dismissed form 125, South Africa had to chase a D/L-adjusted total to win.
Imran Tahir was the pick of the bowlers as he picked up four Afghan batsmen, continuing his bright form in the mega event. Chasing, the Proteas reached the revised target of 127 (D/L method) in 28.4 overs as the openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock scripted a stand of 104 runs.
It was another day where the team from Asia produced a mediocre performance as the Du Plessis-led side had them hands down in every department. The Afghan batsmen presented a dismal show and were of no match in front of the fiery African pacers and Tahir.
Hazratullah Zazai and Noor Ali Zadran’s opening stand of 39 turned out to be Afghanistan’s best partnership of the match. Kagiso Rabada provided South Africa the breakthrough after which Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo and Imran Tahir chipped away. By the time captain Gulbadin Naib was dismissed in the 26th over, Afghanistan were tottering at 77/7.
Rashid Khan then played a counter-attacking cameo of 25 balls in which he scored 35 runs. His innings was punctuated by six fours. His dismissal was the penultimate wicket and Afghanistan were all out in the next two balls.
South Africa were cruising towards what looked like a 10-wicket victory when Naib dismissed de Kock for 68 (72 balls) in the 23rd over. Phehlukwayo, who was sent in at number three, and Amla then saw off the rest of the chase and South Africa secured their first win of the tournament.
Afghanistan: 125 all out (Rashid Khan 35, Noor Ali Zadran 32; Imran Tahir 4/29) vs South Africa: 131/1 (Quinton de Kock 68, Hashim Amla 41; Gulbadin Naib 1/29)
(With IANS inputs)