Asianet NewsableAsianet Newsable

T20 World Cup 2024, SA vs AFG Preview: Resilient Afghanistan faces determined Proteas in semi-final showdown

In the first semifinal of the T20 World Cup 2024, Afghanistan, known for their inspiring journey amidst adversity, will face perennial contenders South Africa in Trinidad's Tarouba on Thursday.

T20 World Cup 2024, SA vs AFG Preview: Resilient Afghanistan faces determined Proteas in semi-final showdown snt
Author
First Published Jun 26, 2024, 2:56 PM IST

In the first semifinal of the T20 World Cup 2024, Afghanistan, known for their inspiring journey amidst adversity, will face perennial contenders South Africa in Trinidad's Tarouba on Thursday. This clash promises to be historic, regardless of the outcome.

Afghanistan, emerging as the revelation of this ICC tournament, have shown remarkable resilience, overcoming the challenges of their war-torn homeland. Their stunning victory over defending champions Australia stands out as a testament to their determination and skill.

Led by captain Rashid Khan, Afghanistan's campaign has been bolstered by the bowling prowess of Fazalhaq Farooqi and Naveen-ul-Haq, who consistently provide early breakthroughs. Gulbadin Naib's pivotal performance against Australia and Mohammad Nabi's unwavering contribution have further solidified their team's success.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz leads the batting charts with 281 runs, while Farooqi tops the bowling statistics with 16 wickets, surpassing more established names in the process.

Their journey to the semifinals is not just about statistics but a testament to their spirit and determination to succeed against all odds.

The stage is set at the Brian Lara Academy, named in honor of the legendary West Indian who has been a staunch supporter of Afghanistan cricket. For the Afghans, a team that has risen from the lower echelons of cricket's hierarchy, this semifinal presents a crucial test.

Their journey has been one of skill and resilience, navigating through challenges that once relegated them to obscurity in the early 2000s. While T20 cricket suits their aggressive style, this momentous match marks their first appearance in a World Cup semifinal—a milestone they must navigate with composure.

Under the guidance of head coach Jonathan Trott, Afghanistan approaches this daunting challenge with confidence, unfazed by the enormity of the occasion.

"We go into the semifinal with no scarring or no history. This is uncharted territory for us. But, by no means, do we feel like we're going into the semifinal just to compete. We're there to win the semifinal. We've beaten some major teams," Trott said after the win over Bangladesh.

South Africa's journey in international cricket has been marred by unfulfilled potential, particularly in the limited-overs formats since their re-admission in 1991. Despite assembling formidable squads, they have never reached the final of a T20 or 50-over World Cup.

To break this streak of near misses, the Proteas must not only overcome Afghanistan but also their own historical shortcomings. In this tournament, however, there are promising signs. They have shown resilience in crucial moments, a weakness that haunted them in past global events.

Under Aiden Markram's leadership, South Africa has demonstrated a newfound ability to win tight matches, a departure from their previous tendencies. Victories by narrow margins against teams like Nepal, Bangladesh, and West Indies highlight their improved mental fortitude.

Experienced left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj attributes their success in this World Cup to a team-wide commitment and determination, suggesting they have overcome previous challenges that often derailed their campaigns.

"If you look at previous World Cups, the small moments, we haven't really won. It's good to see that all the games have come really close and we've found a way, so it's building the character within the team. It prepares us for certain opportunities that we could get and cross over the line in those small moments. These are things that we've never done before. So, it's good to see us getting into that," said Maharaj.

His remarks reflect the collective effort that South Africa has put forth in this tournament.

Currently, only one South African batsman, Quinton de Kock, ranks in the top 10 with 199 runs from seven matches, while none of their bowlers are among the top 10. Despite this, they find themselves in the semifinals, where they must navigate crucial moments against Afghanistan, and potentially in the final as well.

Unlike in the past, South Africa may not be daunted by this challenge.

If Afghanistan can also maintain their composure, a memorable contest appears to be in store for cricket fans worldwide.

Squads:

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik. Reserves: Sediq Atal, Hazratullah Zazai, Saleem Safi.

South Africa: Aiden Markram (c), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.

Match starts at 6am IST.

Latest Videos
Follow Us:
Download App:
  • android
  • ios