Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Proteas crush Afghanistan’s hopes with clinical World Cup victory

Afghanistan have been eliminated in the race for the semi-finals.

They were not flashy about it, but South Africa earned another confidence boost on Friday after beating giant slayers Afghanistan by five wickets in their last round-robin match at the Cricket World Cup.

While they had already booked their place in next week’s semi-finals, the Proteas made sure with a steady all-round effort in Ahmedabad in a tightly contested battle, picking up their seventh win from nine matches in the opening round.

Afghanistan, meanwhile, were dumped out of the competition, missing out on a spot in the playoffs after delivering breakthrough results throughout the tournament.

Chasing 245 to win, the Proteas chipped away at their target, led by a patient knock from top-order batter Rassie van der Dussen.

He contributed 76 off 95 balls, combining in a key stand with all-rounder Andile Phehlukwayo for the sixth wicket.

Playing his first match of the tournament (and giving in-form all-rounder Marco Jansen a break) Phehlukwayo stood up with 39 not out, facing 46 deliveries in an unbroken 65-run partnership with Van der Dussen as the Proteas reached 247/5 with 15 balls to spare.

Afghanistan innings

Earlier, though they had to deal with a gutsy fight from all-rounder Azmatullah Omarzai, the South Africans managed to restrict Afghanistan to 244 runs.

The Proteas’ frontline attack had their opponents on the back foot at 116/6 in the 28th over after Afghanistan won the toss and chose to bat.

Omarzai stuck his heels in, however, and kept the tail wagging with an unbeaten ODI career best. He hit 97 not out off 107 balls to carry his side, falling just three runs short of his maiden century in any format at professional level.

Fast bowler Gerald Coetzee spearheaded the Proteas attack, returning 4/44, while spinner Keshav Maharaj also bowled well to take 2/25 from his 10 overs.

“There are maybe one or two things we can tweak, but we’re happy with how the run-chase went,” said Van der Dussen, the Man of the Match.

South Africa will face Australia in the penultimate round of the global showpiece on Thursday.

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