World T20: Proteas brush aside spirited Afghanistan: New entrants, Afghanistan, into the cricketing fraternity have been growing strongly. Their performance has been steadily improving over a period of time.
Their new recruits, Manoj Prabhakar (bowling coach) and Inzamam ul Haq (batting coach) have been tirelessly training these cricketers to come up to this level. They were very unfortunate to miss out on the main draw in Asia Cup 2016.
However, Afghans were clearly ‘no match’ for Faf du Plessis led South Africa when both the teams locked horns on the lazy Sunday afternoon at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.
South Africa, winning the toss and electing to bat, losing Hashim Amla (5) in the third over, wicket-keeper-opener, Quiton de Kock and the skipper, Faf du Plessis, added 65 runs in 7 overs for the second wicket. Unfortunately du Plessis was ‘run out’, in the fourth delivery of the 10th over bowled by Hamir Amza.
Having hit the previous delivery for a boundary, du Plessis used his feet once again and jabbed the short-of-length delivery to the cover region. Mohammad Nabi, guarding the region, swooped on the ball and his throw beat the batsman to the stumps. A referral to the third umpire showed du Plessis falling short of the crease as the bails drop out. He made 41 runs off 27 deliveries with 7 fours and a six.
SA were 90 runs for the loss of 2 wickets in 10 overs, as AB de Villiers joined de Kock in the middle. Seven runs later, de Kock fell, scoring 45 runs off just 31 deliveries aided by 6 fours and 2 sixes, bringing JP Duminy to join de Villiers.
The two batsmen went on a scoring spree. Being together for 5.5 overs, they added 76 runs for the fourth-wicket partnership, the best for any wicket in the match.
The eighth T20I half-century for de Villiers came up in just 33 deliveries, so much so that from 29 he went on to 51 in just four balls. The first, third and the fourth deliveries of the 17th over were dispatched into the orbit, while the second one found the ropes.
Hitting another six off the fifth delivery, de Villiers took a single in the last one and retained strike. The bowler to suffer was Rashid Khan.
Sending the first one of the next over bowled by Nabi onto the stands, he defended the second one. Trying to pull the third one to put in out of the ground, de Vlliers succeeded in getting the height but not the distance that resulted in a simple catch to Noor Ali Zadran in the deep midwicket, who made no mistake.
Scoring at a strike rate of 220.68, de Villiers notched up 64 runs off 29 deliveries studded with 4 fours and 5 sixes.
Adding another 30 runs in 2.2 overs for the sixth-wicket, Duminy and David Miller (19) took the team score to 203 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 19.5 overs.
Duminy remaining unbeaten on 29* off 20 deliveries, SA innings folded up with 209 runs, losing five wickets.
Chasing 210 for a win was no mean task for the Afghans.
Openers, wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran, appeared to have come into the middle with a plan
Plundering 11 runs of the first over, they added another 22 runs in the second over. Of the 33 runs on the board, Shahzad had scored 32 runs facing 12 deliveries with 2 fours and 4 sixes. The bowlers to suffer were Kagiso Rabada and Kyle Abbott.
With Chris Morris being introduced into the attack, SA could heave a sigh of relief when they got a break-through.
The final delivery of the fourth over, bowled at 149km, pitched on the off and moved into the batsman sharply. It would have been difficult even for any technically sound batsman to negotiate that delivery. The middle stump was sent cart-wheeling.
Shahzad clearly entertained the Wankhede crowd, scoring 44 runs off only 19 deliveries that contained 3 fours and 5 sixes.
The third-wicket partnership of 45 runs off 5.1 overs, between Guladbin Naib (26) and Mohammad Nabi and a 31-run fourth-wicket partnership in 3.2 overs between Nabi (11) and Samiullah Shenwari (25 were not enough to take the team anywhere near the target.
No major contribution coming from any other batsmen, the Afghan innings got over with 172/10 in 20 overs, when the last batsman, Shapoor Zadran (1) was bowled over by a Yorker from Rabada.
SA won the match by 37 runs.
Chris Morris, who caused the maximum damage, picking up 4 wickets giving away 27 runs in his spell of 4 overs was adjudged the Player of the Match.
Afghanistan put up a very spirited fight and the openers gave a very good start. However, the middle-order could not capitalise and succumbed cheaply. But they, as a team, have a lot of ‘take-aways’ from this match.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, Morris said, “Very happy. That was a performance, but more happy we got the win. It was a similar wicket to the one against England. I tried to bowl quick as I can, unfortunately some guys travelled. Nagpur has been turning, and the spinners will be licking their lips. We have a couple of days to recuperate.”
Afghanistan skipper, Asghar Stanikzai, said, “The total was too high. The wicket was good for batting. This experience will be good for us. Shahzad started well and unfortunately we gave some quick wickets and that”s why we lost the match. We will try our best in the next game.”
After choking against England and winning this game, an upbeat SA skipper, Faf du Plessis said, “Completely honest, yes I felt like that (Déjà vu of the England game?). It is tough and you are under pressure. You need somebody to stand up. Today, we had Chris Morris. But we need to get better in the first three overs. We need just a bit of aggression. We pride on bowling and aggression. Once again, the batting was solid. The extras was not much as the other day, but it has let us down. Still, there is a lot of work to be done. I think we are going to a different continent for the next game. Hopefully, we can make the adjustments quicker than the opposition.”
Proteas take on the mighty West Indies while Afghanistan would have a ‘face off’ against England.