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WT20: Afghanistan face daunting task against South Africa

Source: PTI
March 19, 2016 15:23 IST
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Hashim Amla hits a six against England during the ICC World T20 match against South Africa in Mumbai on Friday

IMAGE: Hashim Amla hits a six against England during the ICC World T20 match against South Africa in Mumbai on Friday. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Advancing into the Super 10 stage for the first time in three attempts, minnows Afghanistan will face a formidable challenge when they clash with South Africa in the ICC World Twenty 20 Championship at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.

WT20: Duminy spells out reasons for close loss against England

Afghanistan suffered a narrow defeat against defending champions Sri Lanka in their opening Group 1 game at Kolkata's EdenGardens and they will have to get across South Africa to keep themselves afloat.

The Proteas, who suffered a stunning two-wicket loss against England on Friday, despite scoring a record-high score of 229 for 4 would come hard at the Afghans, eager to notch up their first win in the tournament to stay in contention for the last four berth.

The Afghans need to stand up to this assault, with both bat and ball from Faf du Plessiss’s men whose bowlers -- barring Imran Tahir -- were taken to the cleaners by the Joe Root-inspired England.

Can a bunch of amateur cricketers defeat a top outfit like South Africa, who will be coming at them at full tilt, and remain in contention for a semi-final spot, is the big question.

The pace attack of the Proteas, which leaked runs aplenty to allow Root and company stage a magnificent run chase, is unlikely to be as accommodative to the Afghans led by Asghar Stanikzai.

Afghanistan's Asghar Stanikai in action

IMAGE: Afghanistan's Asghar Stanikai in action. Photograph: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Stanikzai was the lone top-order batsman to come out with his reputation enhanced with a knock of 62 against Sri Lanka and he not only needs to fire big again, but would require good support from the likes of opener Mohammad Shahzad and middle-order batsman Mohammed Nabi.

The Afghan bowling attack also lacks in experience to stand up to the assault of the likes of Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, A B de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, David Miller and Jean Paul Duminy.

The Afghans have a decent bowling attack, including a few spin bowlers, but they will be threatened by the firepower of the Proteas and need to brace up for it.

Off-spinner Nabi and leggie Rashid Khan have been the most successful in the tournament with seven wickets in the bank so far, but they will face a stiffer task against the top-class Proteas' batting line-up.

It's a battle between the world's No.2 ranked team and No. 9 and a win by Afghanistan would be the biggest upset of the sixth World T20 thus far.

In their only head-to-head clash so far, South Africa had defeated Afghanistan by 59 runs in a low-scoring game at the Kensington Oval, Barbados, in 2010.

The only non-Test playing team, in the Super 10 stage of the current tournament, was rolled over by the Proteas' pace attack for 80, while chasing a modest target of 140.

Rival squads (from):

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.

Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Rashid Khan, Ameer Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Hamid Hassan.

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