In a riveting encounter at Ahmedabad, South Africa secured a convincing five-wicket victory over Afghanistan in their final group game of the ICC World Cup 2023.
This win solidified South Africa’s second spot on the points table, setting the stage for a tantalizing semi-final clash against Australia next week.
Chasing a target of 245, South Africa displayed resilience and composure in their pursuit. Rassie van der Dussen played a pivotal role, crafting an unbeaten innings of 76, steering the Proteas to victory with 15 balls to spare.
The Proteas, having already secured a spot in the semi-finals, reached the target in 47.3 overs, accumulating 14 points in the tournament and maintaining their second position, just behind India.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, faced a formidable task to stay in the semi-final race. Azmatullah Omarzai’s stellar knock of 97 provided a semblance of hope for the Asian side, but they concluded their innings at 244 all out after 50 overs. South African pacer Gerald Coetzee played a crucial role, claiming four wickets to keep the Afghan batsmen in check.
Omarzai’s innings was a highlight, displaying elegance and determination, falling just three runs short of a well-deserved century.
However, Coetzee’s disciplined bowling ensured Afghanistan faced an uphill battle throughout their innings. Despite reaching a commendable 160 for 7, the Afghan team struggled to establish substantial partnerships.
The early departure of Afghanistan’s openers, Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran, set the tone for a challenging innings. Spinner Keshav Maharaj and pacer Gerald Coetzee struck early blows, disrupting the Asian side’s rhythm and limiting their scoring opportunities.
While Afghanistan fought valiantly, the mathematical complexities of their semi-final hopes became apparent as the match progressed. Needing an improbable 438-run victory to leapfrog New Zealand on the points table, the task proved insurmountable, even with Omarzai’s commendable effort.
As the ICC World Cup 2023 enters its decisive stages, South Africa’s victory not only underlines their formidable form but also sets the stage for a blockbuster semi-final clash with Australia.
Afghanistan, despite their exit from the semi-final race, showcased glimpses of resilience and talent, leaving an indelible mark on the tournament.
The cricketing world now eagerly awaits the unfolding drama of the semi-finals, with South Africa and Australia ready to engage in a high-stakes battle in Kolkata.