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.
Pakistan left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir said the memory of his late mother will serve as an inspiration during the World Cup clash against India in Manchester on Sunday.
The 27-year-old Amir is back in form after picking up 5-30 against Australia on Wednesday following an extended poor run that saw him take just five wickets in 14 ODIs leading up to the World Cup.
Amir’s mother Naseem Akhtar passed away in March this year and the pacer said she wanted him to take five wickets in every match.
“My mother will definitely be praying for me from the heavens,” Amir was quoted as saying by AFP.
“She would always be found before the television, praying for my success and her biggest wish was that I get five wickets, so when I got five I cried and remembered her words.”
Pakistan have lost all six of their previous World Cup matches against India but Amir is looking to draw inspiration from their 2017 Champions Trophy final meeting in England when Amir inspired a 180-run victory.
“That was a high-pressure game so I learnt from that final. As a strike bowler everyone wanted me to take wickets and on that day I learned how to handle that pressure,” said Amir.
Aaron Finch blasted a national World Cup record 153 to send Australia top of the World Cup standings with an 87-run victory over Sri Lanka at The Oval.
Finch equalled his career-best ODI innings in a one-sided result, the skipper eclipsing Ricky Ponting’s unbeaten 140 from the 2003 final as Australia’s top World Cup innings.
Australia’s big hitting sealed a fourth win in five matches, with former skipper Steve Smith notching 73 and Glenn Maxwell a quickfire 46 in a final tally of 334-7.
Dimuth Karunaratne and Kusal Perera raced to a 115-run opening stand, but once Australia broke that partnership, Sri Lanka never looked capable of producing the required record World Cup chase.
Sri Lanka wound up 247 all out, the size of the chase forcing a clutch of mistakes.
Australia’s commanding victory offered a statement of intent for their World Cup intentions and a warning to their rivals, notably England.
The grudge match against the hosts and pre-tournament favourites is slated for Lord’s on June 25, and both sides appear to be moving towards top form.
Finch’s superlative captain’s knock comfortably won the day for an Australia side whose bowling improved as their time in the field wore on.
David Warner looked out of touch and scrapping for form in a patchy 26 from 48 balls at the top of the innings, and Usman Khawaja failed with just 10.
But all that proved immaterial with Finch in sparkling form, ably supported by first Smith and then Maxwell.
Karunaratne and Perera blasted out of the blocks to the extent that just for a fleeting 10 overs Sri Lanka started to concoct ideas of pulling off this monster chase.
Starc had other ideas though, clean bowling Perera with a fine delivery, on which turned Sri Lanka’s entire innings.
The seamer’s eventual haul of four wickets for 55 runs belied a sticky start, underlining Australia’s trademark tenacity to turn events in their favour, often through little more than sheer will.
Karunaratne succumbed three shy of a maiden ODI century to boot, as hope proved a typically cruel mistress.
If Perera’s dismissal was down to Starc’s poise, Karunaratne’s revolved around a loose shot. No one who followed either opener could generate anywhere near the same power, panache and pace of scoring.
And so Sri Lanka’s innings, and the match, petered out to the inevitable Australia win.
Australia roll on to face Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Thursday, buoyed hugely by this result and certainly Finch’s front-foot leadership. Sri Lanka limp towards a Headingley encounter with England, where without significantly beefed-up middle order batting they can expect similar treatment.
Provided by Press Association Sport