MUMBAI. — Sparkling contributions by AB de Villiers and Chris Morris set up an unconvincing 37-run win for South Africa against Afghanistan in their World Twenty20 Group One cricket clash at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai yesterday as they produced match-defining performances in the moment critique.
De Villiers struck 64 off 29 balls with four fours and five sixes to propel the Proteas to 209 for five. His superb knock included 29 runs in the 17th over against the 17-year old legspinner Rashid Khan to power South Africa at the business-end of the innings.
The South African dynamo received expert support from Faf du Plessis, who looked in excellent form against the spinners in his 41 off 27 balls before he was run out.
Quinton de Kock again spearheaded a rollicking South African start which yielded 66 runs in the power play. He finished with 45 off 31 balls.
South Africa reached 92 for two after 10 overs. They looked to labour a tad against decent slow bowling by Samiullah Shenwari and Mohammad Nabi in the next six overs before De Villiers ignited the innings in that 16th over. JP Duminy added an unbeaten 29 off 20 balls.
Morris nipped out 4-27 and was the destroyer-in-chief. The legspinner Imran Tahir impressed with his economy and control, capturing 2-24 to restrict Afghanistan to 172.
The global minnows exposed South Africa’s brittle bowling in the power play with a brutal Mohammad Shahzad-inspired onslaught.
He blasted 44 off 19 balls, including three fours and five sixes. Kyle Abbott conceded 22 runs in the second over. Shahzad was relentless over midwicket and also behind square.
Morris stopped the rot when he was introduced in the fourth over, bowling Shahzad for 44.
In his next over, the fast bowler, who was operating with great rhythm and pace, had Ashgar Stanikzai caught behind for 7.
Afghanistan finished the power play on 64 for two.
Gulbadin Naib targeted the fifth bowler, David Wiese, and slashed 15 runs in his first over.
Afghanistan reached the halfway-mark on 103 for two and South Africa’s attack looked vulnerable in the absence of JP Duminy, who was nursing a hamstring strain.
Abbott showed his mettle in his return spells as he and Imran Tahir captured wickets in the 11th and 12th over to keep Afghanistan in check. Abbott took 2-14 in his final three overs.
He used a slower-ball bouncer to account for Naib when the latter looked set for a big score on 26 and threatened to explode.
Tahir again showed why he is South Africa’s best bowler in a crisis moment. He finished with 2-24 which included the scalp of Nabi for 11 in the 15th over.
Abbott and Tahir restricted the run-rate significantly between the 11th and 16th over.
The pace merchant Abbott also removed the useful allrounder Shenwari for 25, while Morris wrapped it up with a double-strike in the penultimate over.
When his Yorker was on-line, Morris was lethal.
Kagiso Rabada, after a slightly wayward start, took 2-37 in four overs.
Wiese was inconsistent and strayed on both sides of the wicket and also conceded too many wides via the use of the slow bouncer.
South Africa will know they need significant improvement in the bowling department before the clash against the West Indies on Friday. — AFP.