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South Africa v Afghanistan: QDK to go big at last

South Africa v Afghanistan: QDK to go big at last

South Africa v Afghanistan
Saturday June 15, 12:30
Live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event

Have the Proteas already run their race?

What a disaster it’s been so far for the Proteas. Four matches have yielded just one point and that one was courtesy of a rained-off match against the Windies that skipper Faf du Plessis admitted was one they may have struggled in anyway given there was every chance that it would have at best been a truncated one. A struggle especially in light of them being 29-2 in the little time they did have to play.

In truth, they’ve been a tad unlucky. Hashim Amla has looked a shadow of his former self since being hit on the helmet in that very first match by Jofra Archer, Lungi Ngidi got injured in his second match and they lost Dale Steyn before he even got a game.

But still. They weren’t even competitive against India and England and shouldn’t have lost to Bangladesh.

With the possible exception of Quinton de Kock and all-rounders Andile Phehlukwayo and Chris Morris, no-one seems to be in any sort of form.

But they have to believe that if they win here and go on to win the rest of their matches they can still gatecrash the semis.

At least they’ve already played England and India.

Afghans finding 50 over cricket tough going

I’ll happily admit that I was in the camp of those who thought Afghanistan could at worst finish above Sri Lanka at this World Cup.

But their performances have reminded us that having three players who are regular features on the World T20 circuit is one thing and getting up in 50-over cricket at a World Cup are quite another.

They really do look a side best suited to the shortest format because they seem to lack consistency with the ball and patience with the bat. You can’t often win an ODI in five overs but you can certainly go a long way to losing one.

Star man Rashid Khan should be fine to play after also getting hit on the helmet, this time against New Zealand. But keeper and opener Mohammad Shahzad has exited the tournament after his medical team ruled him out with injury. He claims he was fine to play…

There’s absolutely no way one could recommend a bet at odds of 1/6 on South Africa.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that South Africa are dismissed for 250 or so and that a couple of the Afghan dashers come off and that the lower middle order gets them over the line.

Or that Afghanistan (pictured celebrating a wicket) have first use of a good pitch and that their spinners tie down the South Africans, who aren’t great players of spin.

Afghans1280.jpg

But threatening an upset is one thing and winning the game is a very different story. Your best bet would be a back-to-lay of Khan and co over on the Exchange.

You can understand why Rashid Khan is the 11/10 favourite to be Afghanistan top bowler. Ranked Three in the ODI bowler rankings (and Ranked Two in the all-rounder rankings, by the way), he’s also the fourth highest ODI wicket taker in the world over the past two years, boasting the best strike rate of anyone in the Top 50.

But there are two problems with all that. The first is that some of those games were against sides who just couldn’t pick him; the same won’t happen here against players who have seen plenty of him in the IPL, T20 Blast and Big Bash.

The second is that he maybe just looks a bit jaded. He’s been playing non-stop now for about three years and doesn’t have that contagious energy about him at the moment. Admittedly he didn’t bowl in the last match after that blow to the head, but he’s taken just three wickets. Poor by his standards.

At 7/2 you can go with Mohammad Nabi. He’s the sort of spinner who doesn’t turn it that much but take liberties against him and you could be walking back to the pavilion in no time. Admittedly his four wickets taken so far all came in the same match against Sri Lanka but given he almost always bowls 10 overs and looks to attack the stumps, he should give you a good run for your money. Let’s go with him.

Hamid Hassan (4/1) was excellent against Australia but has been pretty poor since. Mujeeb Ur Rahman is quoted as a 7/2 shot but was dropped for the last match and might miss out again.

South Africa haven’t yet had a man-of-the-match because they…haven’t yet won a game.

I think one way or another they should win here so we can try and work out who might be in contention to be the star man.

Quinton de Kock has looked decent so far, is averaging just short of 40 from three innings and and this could be the game where he goes big. Few batsmen in world cricket punish poor bowling (of which there might be some here) like he does and you get the feeling that if he gets to 80 or 100 it will be in no time. Yes, he’s the favourite at 15/2 but this could be just the sort of match where he makes batting look easy.

It might also be worth taking a gamble on Phehlukwayo at a considerably bigger 18/1. He’s one of four SA players on four wickets, proof that he’s not just a handy bowler, but a key one. He’s taken at least one wicket in all of his four matches so far.

If things get a bit sticky for the Proteas this could be a scenario where a couple of wickets and 40-odd with the bat would see him in serious contention for MOM honours. It’s worth a punt.

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