South Africa v Afghanistan: Cricket World Cup 2023 – live | Cricket World Cup 2023
This is a really excellent piece from Taha Hashim on Afghanistan’s tournament.
Afghanistan are unchanged. South Africa make two changes: Marco Jansen and Tabraiz Shamsi are replaced by Andile Phehlukwayo and Gerald Coetzee, though Temba Bavuma stresses they have been rested rather than dropped.
Afghanistan Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Ikram Alikhil (wk), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq.
South Africa de Kock, Bavuma, van der Dussen, Markram, Klaasen, Miller, Phehlukwayo, Coetzee, Maharaj, Rabada, Ngidi.
The captain Hashmatullah Shahidi thinks the pitch will spin the second innings, so this could be a very interesting test of South Africa’s ability to chase.
“We haven’t done it well,” says their captain Temba Bavuma, “so we have another opportunity to learn in terms of a blueprint, and take confidence from doing so.”
We’re all friends here, so let us speak frankly. Go. Bugger off. Do something else. Watch repeats of Frasier on Channel 4. This game between South Africa and Afghanistan, which promised so much, is essentially meaningless.
Glenn Maxwell’s mind-blowing double hundred and New Zealand’s long, soothing, ooh-I-didn’t-realise-I-had-so-much-tension-there net run rate massage against Sri Lanka mean that Afghanistan can no longer qualify for the semi-finals. Had they beaten Australia, a win here would have put them through. But they didn’t, and it won’t, so what are we going to do?
Celebrate Afghanistan, for a start. They may not have made the semis but they are one of the teams of the tournament, and this is their last match of a campaign which, all things being equal, will be recognised historically as their big breakthrough.
It’s a pretty important game for South Africa, a de facto warm-up for Thursday’s humongous semi-final against Australia, and a chance to replenish their morale after they were demolished by India last weekend.
With that in mind, what should Temba Bavuma do if he wins the toss? Bat first and try to resume normal servie by scoring 350+? Or bowl first to give South Africa more practice at chasing, thereby also increasing the risk of a damaging defeat?
We’ll find out soon enough. The match starts at 8.30am GMT, 2pm in Ahmedabad.