South Africa opened their account at the ongoing World Cup, as the Proteas secured an emphatic nine-wicket victory over Afghanistan.
Chasing a mere target of 127, the opening duo of Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock got South Africa to a great start. The pair added 104 for the first wicket before De Kock was removed by Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib on 68.
Earlier in the day, Imran Tahir and Chris Morris’ clinical bowling figures helped South Africa bundle Afghanistan on 125 in 34.1 overs. Tahir, who was introduced in the 22nd over of the match ran havoc over Afghanistan middle order. The leggie picked a couple of wickets in his first over and added two more to his tally. Morris, on the other hand, gave away 13 runs in the 6.1 overs he bowled and scalped three wickets.
Kock blast with the bat for runs. He played a great inning for South Africa to an easy win by 9 wickets (DLS method).
Faf du Plessis South African skipper: I am smiling at your jokes. Today was a good day for us. We spoke a lot about it and today we were good. Given the nature of the wicket, conducive for seam bowlers, it would have been a challenge. It was important to get a good start, the wicket was not very conducive to spin. Morris and Tahir were fantastic in the middle overs as they got wickets. He (Tahir) has single-handedly made us a strong team in the last two years with his ability to take wickets in the middle overs. Naturally, Quinton plays quite freely but it was important for him to see off the new ball. We needed a 60 or 70-run stand upfront and we could have worked on the run rate later. It was important for Amla to get amongst the runs, he will be important for us in the upcoming games. In the next four games, the net run rate is not going to play a massive role if you win those games. So we need Hashim to score runs for us, hence he needed a not-out innings today.
Gulbadin Naib Afghanistan skipper: It’s bad luck. We did well in the opening overs but we repeated the same mistake again (Just like the previous match). Credit goes to Tahir’s spell, we weren’t expecting it. We did well against the fast bowlers but the batsmen didn’t take responsibility in the middle overs. We needed to build partnerships but we committed the same mistake by not having those partnerships. We have a lot of batsmen in the team with Rashid Khan coming at 9. We need our lower-middle order batsmen to contribute in the upcoming matches. Asghar is a senior player that’s why we gave him a chance. Najib is an outstanding batsman, we’ll have him in the team in the upcoming matches. We need to play much better cricket.
Imran Tahir (MoM) Yeah, I really enjoyed my workout today, pleased with the way the ball came out (of my hand), I had a role to play for my team, have been working hard; really pleased with our win today. We were up for it, can’t control the weather, but we made sure we maintained our intensity at the highest level, the fast bowlers set the tone; overall it was a very pleasing performance. I did get some turn, but it was more wicket-to-wicket, wasn’t trying too many variations at the start, it came out well and then I tried some different variations. The celebration part is always important, it’s important for us to keep winning, we are up for the challenge, we are ready to take the fight in the next match in Birmingham (against New Zealand). He (Rashid Khan) played some good shots, but I can go and tell him now that I took his wicket.