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Cricket World Cup 2023: Dussen's fighting knock leads South Africa to victory over gritty Afghanistan
World Cup
Photo courtesy: UNI

Cricket World Cup 2023: Dussen's fighting knock leads South Africa to victory over gritty Afghanistan

| @indiablooms | 11 Nov 2023, 11:00 am

Ahmedabad/UNI: Rassie van der Dussen's fighting knock helped South Africa overcome the Afghanistan challenge at Narendra Modi Stadium in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup here on Friday.

The second innings of the game was predominantly a contest between Afghanistan bowlers and South Africa batsmen, with the latter coming out on top at the very end.

Dussen (76*) starred for South Africa with a splendid innings, whereas old hands Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi were the stars for Afghanistan.

In the first innings, Azmatullah Omarzai's fighting 97* helped Afghanistan finish strongly after South Africa had dominated for the majority of the innings.

Gerald Coetzee (4/44) and Keshav Maharaj (2/25) shined for the Proteas.

The South Africa openers were among the runs from the very beginning. Quinton de Kock was particularly aggressive, hitting two fours and three sixes in the first Powerplay.

Temba Bavuma experienced some issues with his hamstring but managed to stick around at the crease.

Afghanistan struck back early in the second Powerplay. Bavuma fell while trying to clear Mujeeb Ur Rahman past deep mid-wicket.

In the 14th over, Mohammad Nabi trapped Quinton de Kock leg before wicket. While the on-field umpire didn't agree with that call, Afghanistan succeeded in getting a wicket after a review.

Dussen and Aiden Markram then took South Africa ahead with a steady stand. The duo hit a number of confident shots, even as the Proteas improved their scoring rate. However, Rashid's special spell got two important breakthroughs for his team.

He got rid of Markram (25) in the 24th over. The batsman ended up pulling a catch towards the covers. A few overs later, the dangerous Heinrich Klaasen was cleaned up.

The set Dussen got decent support from David Miller, as the duo batted out the next few anxious deliveries, and then got back into the groove once more. Their stand helped blunt the impact of Afghanistan tweakers, even as the Proteas gradually moved towards their target.

However, Afghanistan got a timely breakthrough in the 38th over when Miller (24) pushed one back to Nabi. The Afghanistan spinners were able to stifle the scoring rate, and the South Africa chase depended predominantly on Dussen's stay at the crease.

The batsman managed to stave off the spin challenge, and along with Phehlukwayo (39*) helped South Africa to a five-wicket win.

Riding high on Azmatullah Omarzai unbeaten 97, Afghanistan put up a competitive total of 244.

Azmatullah stitched three crucial 40-plus-run partnerships along with Rahmat Shah (26) in the initial stage, and then with Rashid Khan (14) and Noor Ahmed (26) towards the end.

He reached a patient half-century in the 37th over and added 71 runs in the final powerplay, even as the South Africa bowlers erred in their lines and lengths. Unfortunately though, the No.5 batsman could not get to the three-figure mark.

Opting to bat, Afghanistan got off to a good start, but lost their first wicket on 41, but lost three more in next three overs, resulting in the run rate dipping significantly.

Afghanistan continued to lose wickets and were in a spot of bother at 116/6, and then Azamatullah delivered.

For South Africa, left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj (2/25) was at his miserly best and Gerald Coetzee picked up a 4-fer.

Kagiso Rabada went wicketless and Lungi Ngidi walked off the field with an ankle issue in his first spell. Ngidi came back on the field, and picked up a couple of wickets, but did not look fully fit.

Earlier, Afghanistan openers ensured a scoring rate, but Maharaj drew first ball in his very first ball after removing Rahmanullah Gurbaz (25), snapped up by Heinrich Klaasen at first slip.

In the very next over, Afghanistan lost last match's centurion Ibrahim Zadran for 15. Coetzee had him caught behind Quinton de Kock. They lost two more wickets in the next 12 balls.

Captain Hashmatullah Shahidi edged to De Kock off Maharaj in his very second over, and soon Afghanistan were struggling at 45/3.

Rahmat Shah and Azmatullah stabilised the innings without losing further wickets as they scored only two boundaries in this phase.

Just when they started to score freely, Rahmat was brilliantly caught at backward point by David Miller, who initially juggled and struggled with the bat.

Rahmat's wicket brought the Proteas back into the game, and the pacers ran through the Afghanistan middle-order. Ikram Alikhil tried to lift the scoring pace with his attacking intent, but was soon sent back after he nicked one off Coetzee.

In the very next over, Ngidi picked his second breakthrough, getting Mohammad Nabi to edge one behind the wicket.

Hashmatullah Shahidi called it right at the toss and elected to bat first. His reasoning centered around the belief that the wicket would probably turn later in the day.

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