Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

‘These guys are disruptors’: Proteas brace for giant beaters Afghanistan

While the result of the match won't mean as much for South Africa, it is a crunch fixture for Afghanistan.

Preparing to face the tournament’s surprise contenders, Proteas bowling coach Eric Simons says they are not underestimating Afghanistan and will be ready to go on Friday, despite the irrelevant result (at least from their own perspective).

While other teams in the tournament were more explosive with the bat than the Afghan side, Simons said the Proteas would be wary of their opponents who had delivered breakthrough results throughout the Cricket World Cup in India.

Afghanistan were handed a three-wicket defeat by five-time champions Australia earlier this week (thanks to a remarkable double-century from Glenn Maxwell) but they had pushed them all the way.

Simons said South Africa were bracing for a hard-fought contest as they aimed to enter the playoffs with another confidence-boosting victory.

“We saw a situation where the Afghanistan batsmen were dictating Australia’s plans, and as experienced as [Australian bowlers Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood] are, they seemed to almost get into their heads and control the tempo at which the game was played,” Simons said.

“I think that’s something that’s very important for a bowling line-up not to allow the batsmen to do, particularly when you go into the game and you know these guys are disruptors in the way that they play.”

Afghan hopes

While the result of the match won’t mean as much for South Africa, with their semi-final opponents already decided, it is a crunch fixture for Afghanistan.

After picking up four wins thus far in the opening round – including victories over defending champions England and former champions Pakistan – the Afghan outfit will be desperate to earn another shock triumph in an attempt to reach the World Cup playoffs for the first time.

The match between South Africa and Afghanistan starts at 10.30am (SA time) in Ahmedabad on Friday.

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