Big picture: Batting might vs bowling smarts
They are now in Ahmedabad to play their final league game and will bow out of the World Cup at the largest cricket stadium in the world. Having only ever beaten Scotland once in 2015 and 2019, Afghanistan have beaten three former champions – England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan – this time, as well as Netherlands, but the 438-run victory they need against South Africa to push New Zealand out of fourth place on net run rate is impossible. An exit with ten points, as many as the team that qualifies fourth, however, will be a massive win in itself.
Eventually, the result is likely to hinge on how Afghanistan’s bowlers fare against South Africa’s batting might. Afghanistan and India are the only teams to have not conceded 300 even once this World Cup. South Africa have scored five totals in excess of 300, the highest being 428 against Sri Lanka. Do Afghanistan have it in them to contain South Africa?
Afghanistan LWWWL (Last five completed ODIs; most recent first)
South Africa LWWWW
In the spotlight: Ibrahim Zadran and Marco Jansen
Team news: Phehlukwayo to get a game?
Depending on the Ahmedabad pitch, Afghanistan might bring back Farooqi for either Noor or Mujeeb. The rest of their playing XI is unlikely to change.
Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), 5 Azmatullah Omarzai, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Ikram Alikhil (wk), 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Fazalhaq Farooqi, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Noor Ahmad
Lungi Ngidi did not complete his ten overs against India, walking off two balls into his ninth. While he did come out to bat later and is declared fit for the game, South Africa could rest either him or Kagiso Rabada, with Andile Phehlukwayo coming in for his first game. Tazbraiz Shamsi could also make way for fast bowler Gerald Coetzee.
South Africa (probable): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (capt), 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Heinrich Klaasen, 6 David Miller, 7 Marco Jansen, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Lungi Ngidi/Andile Phehlukwayo, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi/Gerald Coetzee
Pitch and conditions
Ahmedabad hasn’t had extremely high totals so far in the World Cup – no team has been able to score more than 300. The soil type will be a factor in how the surface plays. The temperature is expected to hover around the 36-degree mark when the match starts and will go down in the evening. There is little to no chance of rain.
Stats and trivia
- Rahmat Shah is just 13 short of becoming the fourth Afghanistan batter to score 4000 runs in international cricket.
- South Africa have a win percentage of 90.90 when batting first in ODIs in 2023. They have lost just one of 11 matches
- Heinrich Klaasen’s strike rate of 148.67 is the highest in ODIs in 2023 (minimum 200 runs)
- If Jansen takes one more wicket, he will become the leading wicket-taker for South Africa in a single ODI World Cup
- Rassie van der Dussen has fallen to spin six times in eight innings so far this World Cup
“We haven’t been horrific chasing, it’s just been one or two games where we slipped up. I think it’s just comparing to what we have done batting first, which has been exceptional.”
David Miller doesn’t believe South Africa are bad chasers
“In this World Cup, I think one part that we are not good enough in, is the fielding, you know, like we dropped so many catches. In the New Zealand game also, those dropped catches hurt us. Especially last game with Australia, that dropped the chances that we had. That was the reason, if we took that, the result and scenario would be far different than now.”
Hashmatullah Shahidi agrees that dropped catches have hurt Afghanistan
Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo