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ICC World Cup: South Africa defeat Afghanistan by 5 wickets in their last league game

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In the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Australia will take on Bangladesh in Pune at 10.30 am while England will face Pakistan in their last group league match in Kolkata at 2 pm today.

A massive victory over England will secure the semi-final spot for Pakistan. It needs to win by 287 runs if it bats first. If it bowls first, Pakistan needs to chase the target with 284 deliveries to spare.

Earlier, South Africa defeated Afghanistan by 5 wickets in their last league game at Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad yesterday. South Africa has already reached the semifinals and will take on Australia at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on the 16th of November.

A measured unbeaten fifty from Rassie van der Dussen (76 off 95 balls) led the way for South Africa who aced a tricky chase against Afghanistan with a five-wicket win in Ahmedabad on Friday (November 10). Chasing an under-par target of 245, South Africa didn’t have it all easy as Afghanistan’s potent spinners put them through the grill. However, van der Dussen held fort at one end and got good support from the rest of the middle order as South Africa finally produced a convincing performance during a run chase in this World Cup.

The innings started off at breakneck speed for the Proteas as Quinton de Kock got them off to a flier. Skipper Temba Bavuma battled an injury to stick it out albeit without any real fluency in his innings. However, the 64-run stand was just the tonic South Africa needed to ease themselves into the chase. But, as expected, Afghanistan fought back through their spinners. Both openers fell in rather quick succession and while van der Dussen looked assured at his end, he found his partners all departing after getting starts. Aiden Markram looked in top form before a rash shot did him in while Heinrich Klaasen was done in by a beauty – both of whom were undone by Rashid Khan.

Despite the increasing dew levels, Afghanistan spinners managed to keep probing away at the South African batters. David Miller stitched a useful 43-run stand with van der Dussen but when the left-hander became yet another southpaw in Mohammad Nabi’s hitlist, South Africa still needed 63 to win with half the side back in the hut. Any hopes of an Afghan heist was put to rest by Andile Phehlukwayo who belted a 37-ball 39 to reverse the pressure back on the bowling side.

With van der Dussen anchoring the chase in his sedate manner, Phehlukwayo was the ideal aggressive foil as the two batters saw the chase through. Afghanistan did manage to make the chase tricky but they knew that the score posted by them was about 30-35 runs short of a par total. On a decent batting surface at the Narendra Modi Stadium, Afghanistan’s batters were guilty of not applying themselves. They lacked clarity in dealing with South Africa’s pace attack and were also undone by a brilliantly accurate spell from Keshav Maharaj. Wickets fell at regular intervals and at one point, a paltry total seemed on the cards. Afghanistan needed Azmatullah Omarzai’s career-best ODI knock to bail them out. The all-rounder continued to impress in the tournament with a classy 107-ball 97 to hold the innings together.

Omarzai stitched two invaluable stands with Rashid and Noor Ahmad as Afghanistan recovered from a slippery 116/6 to put a respectable total of 244 on the board. Omarzai batted with composure and took the game deep before playing expansive strokes at the back end. Noor’s cameo was also handy as South Africa were yet again at the receiving end of a lower order fightback in the tournament. Omarzai looked set for his maiden ODI ton but a fantastic 50th over from Kagiso Rabada denied the youngster the milestone. Gerald Coetzee starred with a four-fer while Maharaj and the others chipped in usefully to restrict Afghanistan. All eyes were on how South Africa would fare in this tricky chase but they passed the test with a fair degree of comfort.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 244 in 50 overs (Azmatullah Omarzai 97*, Noor Ahmad 26; Gerald Coetzee 4-44, Keshav Maharaj 2-25) lost to South Africa 247/5 in 47.3 overs (Rassie van der Dussen 76*, Quinton de Kock 41, Andile Phehlukwayo 39*; Mohammad Nabi 2-35, Rashid Khan 2-37) by five wickets

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