Afghanistan opener Mohammad Shahzad stole the limelight from AB de Villiers with an entertaining innings of 44 but South Africa managed to survive a stiff challenge from the minnows, in the ICC World T20 Super 10 Group 2 match at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, on Sunday.
Shahzad’s blistering attack left the South Africans stunned in the early overs as he blasted 44 from 19 balls, hitting three fours and five sixes but Afghanistan were not able to sustain the momentum after his dismissal before they were bowled out for 172 to lose by 37 runs. Pacer Chris Morris brought South Africa back into the contest, with two wickets in his first two overs, to finish with excellent figures of four in 27 in his four overs.
Earlier, AB de Villiers had smashed 64 from 29 balls to propel South Africa to a massive 209 for five after they had elected to bat first.
Shahzad went after Kagiso Rabada in the first over of the innings as he got a thick outside edge off which carried all the way over thirdman for a six but the next ball was smashed confidently square on the off-side for a four.
Kyle Abbott was welcomed to the bowling crease with a thumping blow over midwicket which went for a six. Abbott was in for a shock as Shahzad hit him for two more sixes over the leg side before he cut the last ball through point for a four to smash 22 runs from the over.
Shahzad, 28, continued his fireworks as he played the ramp shot against Rabada for a four before he flicked the next ball over fine leg for a six. He carved the last ball over the covers for two runs to race to 46 from just 18 balls with Afghanistan off to a flier on 47 for no loss in three overs.
Chris Morris made the breakthrough with the big wicket of Shahzad, who was bowled after a cracking knock of 44 from 19 balls, having hit three fours and five sixes. Morris showed South Africa’s frustration as he sledged Shahzad after his dismissal forcing his partner Noor Ali to have a word with Proteas captain Faf du Plessis.
Asghar Stanikzai ensured that Afghanistan maintained the momentum after Shahzad’s dismissal as he cut a short ball from Abbott over the off-side for a six to take the score to 60 for one in five overs.
But Morris struck again in his second over, claiming the wicket of Stanikzai, who was caught behind for six to bring South Africa back after Afghanistan’s stunning start.
Gulabdin Naib went after pacer David Wiese in his first over, hitting him for two successive boundaries, while Noor Ali hit the last ball for the third four of the over to get 15 from it.
Naib played the inside out lofted off Imran Tahir for a six before Noor Ali played a delightful flick off Wiese for a six over square leg to bring up the 100-run mark for Afghanistan from 9.4 overs.
Interestingly, Afghanistan brought up their 100 in the 10th over as compared to South Africa, who took 12 overs to reach the landmark.
Afghanistan soon ran out of steam as Zaid (26) and Zadran (25) fell in successive overs, by Abbott and Tahir respectively, to be reduced to 110 for four in 12 overs.
South Africa managed to keep things in control in the middle overs as Afghanistan reached 140 for four in 15 overs.
Mohammad Nabi attempted to attack Tahir but hit it straight into the hands of de Villiers at long-on to fall for 1. The South African leg-spinner finished with good figures of two for 23 in two overs.
Afghanistan kept losing wickets at regular intervals to be bowled out for 172 in 20 overs with Morris taking four for 27.
Earlier, AB de Villiers blasted a quickfire half-century to propel South Africa to a mammoth 209 for five in their 20 overs.
De Villiers, who was dropped twice made Afghanistan pay dearly for their fielding lapses, as he hammered 64 from a mere 29 deliveries.
Opener Quinton de Kock continued his good form with a fluent 45, while Faf du Plessis stroked 41 from 27 balls with the duo putting on 65 runs for the second wicket.
South Africa posted their second successive 200-plus total in the ICC World Twenty20. They had posted a huge 229 for four in their previous match against England at the same venue but had still finished on the losing side.
Electing to bat first, South Africa made the big decision to drop the experienced Dale Steyn as David Wiese was drafted into the side in his place.
Quinton de Kock got the innings off to a smashing start as he hit left-arm spinner Amir Hamza for three boundaries in the opening over of the innings, followed by two fours off Dawlat Zadran in the next over.
Shapoor Zadran checked South Africa’s fiery start with the wicket of Hashim Amla (5) in his first over, who was caught at mid-off for five.
Captain Faf du Plessis also wasted no time in getting after the bowlers as he started with a flurry of boundaries.
De Kock continued his attack on the inexperienced Afghanistan attack as slammed Dawlat Zadran for back to back sixes as South Africa raced to 66 for one in six overs, scoring 60 of those runs in boundaries in the Powerplay.
Du Plessis hit a quickfire 41 from 27 balls, putting on 65 runs for the second wicket with de Kock, before the South African captain was run out with the Proteas reaching 92 for two in 10 overs.
Two overs later, Hamza struck with the wicket of de Kock, who was caught behind for 45 with Afghanistan managing to exert some pressure in the middle overs through their spinners.
De Villiers got his first lifeline on 26, when Shenwari failed to take a straightforward return catch, in the 15th over.
Two overs later, De Villiers, on 35, was again dropped by Shenwari at deep midwicket off leg-spinner Rashid Khan.
The right-hander made them pay as he went on a rampage, hitting Rashid for four sixes and a boundary to race to his half-century from just 24 deliveries.
Another six off Mohammad Nabi in the next over saw de Villiers smashing 35 runs from his seven balls. However, Nabi extracted revenge as he got the wicket of de Villiers caught at deep midwicket after an entertaining knock of 64 from 29 balls, in the 18th over.
J P Duminy provided the flourish at the end as he hit Dawlat Zadran for a couple of sixes and a four in the final over to finish on 29 from 20 balls. David Miller, who made 19 from eight balls, was caught at long-off in the final but Duminy ensured South Africa once again went past the 200-run mark.