A maiden win in the 2019 ICC World Cup finally arrived for South Africa on Saturday with Faf du Plessis and his men crushing Afghanistan by nine wickets at Cardiff.
The Proteas win was built on a fine bowling display from Imran Tahir with Afghanistan folding for a paltry 125 after being put in to bat first. The veteran leg-spinner picked up 4-29 while all-rounder Chris Morris bagged three wickets in what was another sorry batting effort from the Afghans.
Openers Hazratullah Zazai (22) and Noor Ali Zadran (32) had given Afghanistan a conservative but solid start with the bat before the former was dismissed by Kagiso Rabada. However, the Afghan middle-order failed to build on that promising start and collapsed against the leg-spin of Tahir and medium pace of Morris.
They were 56-1 at one stage but soon found themselves reduced to 77-7 with Tahir and Morris doing the damage. Tahir accounted for Noor Ali, Asghar Ali Afghan and Gulbadin Naib in an excellent spell before returning to end the counter-attacking innings of Rashid Khan.
The Afghan all-rounder struck a 25-ball 35 down the order to help his side cross the 100-run mark and ultimately post 125.
In response, South Africa’s openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock were made to struggle in the first powerplay with only 35 runs coming off the first 10 overs. Amla, in particular, looked extremely scratchy and never really looked in command during his unbeaten stay as he laboured to a 83-ball 41.
Luckily for the veteran opener, de Kock grew out of his shell quickly before going on to register his second half-century of the tournament. The southpaw struck eight boundaries in a 68-run knock which was ultimately brought to an end by a stunning catch by Mohammad Nabi.
The Proteas ultimately strolled to the revised target of 127 (D/L) in the 29th over with Andile Phehlukwayo finishing off the job in Amla’s company.
The win for South Africa leaves them with three points after five games and they will now move on to Birmingham where they take on New Zealand on Wednesday. For Afghanistan, the loss leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table with no points to show for after four defeats in as many matches.
The task only becomes more difficult going forward for the tournament minnows who will next face favourites and hosts England at Manchester on Tuesday.
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