Strange as it may sound, this is the battle between the bottom two teams on the points table. Both the teams are yet to win a game in this World Cup. While it is not really a shocker in the case of Afghanistan, it is really surprising to find South Africa in this situation. The Proteas lost three matches on the trot before the match against West Indies was washed out. Even in the abandoned match, South Africa was in trouble at 29/2.
Nothing has worked in South Africa’s favour in the tournament so far. They lost their premier bowlers Lungi Ngidi and Dale Steyn to injuries while their experienced batsmen like Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and David Miller have struggled to get going. The match against Afghanistan will be a perfect opportunity for South Africa to register their first win and restart the campaign with a fresh mindset.
Afghanistan has not been as effective as everyone considered them to be. Their batting has not lived up to the World Cup standard. They batted first in all three matches and failed to go beyond 201. Gulbadin Naib’s men are yet to play out all 50 overs in a match. As a result, their bowlers haven’t had a good total to defend. Playing against a struggling South African unit could be Afghanistan’s best chance to display their competitiveness.
South Africa vs Afghanistan, 21st Match
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff (6:00 pm IST)
The weather forecast for the match day isn’t too bright. The rain is likely to play spoilsport.
South Africa and Afghanistan have never faced each other in ODIs, this will be their first clash in the 50-over format. In T20Is, they have met twice with South Africa winning both the games.
Faf du Plessis (South Africa)
South African captain and currently their best batsman, Faf du Plessis, is yet to register a big score in the World Cup. He was in a spectacular form coming into the tournament. In three completed innings so far, he has scored 105 runs with 62 being his highest. A century against Afghanistan will do well for his and his team’s morale.
Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)
It won’t be an overstatement to say that the all-rounder is Afghanistan’s most important player. Nabi’s off-spin has been vital for the team and it was his 4/30 against Sri Lanka that kept Afghanistan alive in the game. He is yet to make a solid contribution with the bat and we can expect him to come good now.
In the washed out match against West Indies, South Africa made two changes. They brought in Aiden Markram and Beuran Hendricks by dropping JP Duminy and Tabraiz Shamsi. They are likely to stick with the same combination.
Pace bowler Dawlat Zadran was rested in the last game. His replacement Aftab Alam took three wickets against New Zealand which creates a headache for selectors. The removal of Mohammad Shahzad already made Afghanistan make two changes. Quality players such as Mujeeb Ur Rehman and Asghar Afghan are also sitting out of the playing 11. We can expect a few changes in this game.
Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Beuran Hendricks
Hazratullah Zazai, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Gulbadin Naib (c), Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali khil (wk), Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan/Dawlat Zadran