Cardiff: Leggie Imran Tahir starred in South Africa’s impressive bowling performance over Afghanistan, leading the Proteas to their first win of the World Cup here and keeping them alive in the tournament.
Tahir (4/29) triggered Afghanistan’s dramatic batting collapse which saw them being bundled out for 125 in 34.1 overs from 56 for one in the 16th over.
South Africa, in another rain affected tie that was reduced to 48 overs a side after the second interruption, chased down the paltry target in 28.1 overs with openers Quinton de Kock (68) and Hashim Amla (41 not out) sharing a 104-run stand.
It was a much needed win for South Africa who had lost their first three games before they shared a point with the West Indies following a washout. For Afghanistan, it was their fourth loss in as many games after another disappointing batting performance.
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis listed out the positives from the game on Saturday.
“Morris (Chris) and Tahir were fantastic in the middle overs as they got wickets. He (Tahir) has single handedly made us a strong team in the last two years with his ability to take wickets in the middle overs. Naturally Quinton plays quite freely but it was important for him to see off the new ball,” he said.
“It was important for Amla to get amongst the runs, he will be important for us in the upcoming games. In the next four games, net run rate is not going to play a massive role if you win those games. So we need Hashim to score runs for us, hence he needed a not-out innings today.”
Sent into bat, Afghanistan were slow and steady to reach 69 for two at the end of the 20th over when rain came for the second time and when play resumed after a one-hour break, they lost four quick wickets for the addition of just eight runs.
They were reduced to 77 for seven in the 26th over, losing five wickets in the space of 4.4 overs. The Afghanistan innings was also halted for 25 minutes in the sixth over due to rain. After the second rain interruption, the match was reduced to a 48-over side with South Africa set a revised-target of 127.
Morris chipped in with three wickets while his pace colleagues Andile Phehlukwayo and Kagiso Rabada took two and one wicket respectively as the Afghans hardly put up any fight against the Proteas.
Phehlukwayo removed a struggling Hashmatullah Shahidi (8 off 22 balls) in the fourth ball after the long rain interruption before Tahir took two wickets in the next over, dismissing well-set Noor Ali Zadran (32 off 58 balls) and Asghar Afghan (0) in the space of five deliveries.
Phehlukwayo then had Mohammad Nabi (1) in the next over before Tahir got his third wicket of the day in the 26th over in the form of captain Gulbadin Naib (5) to leave Afghanistan innings in disarray.
It was number nine and top-scorer Rashid Khan who delayed the end of Afghanistan innings with a 25-ball 35.
He stitched a 34-run stand with wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil (9 off 33 balls) for the eighth wicket before falling in the penultimate over of the innings.