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Van der Dussen, Coetzee help South Africa defeat spirited Afghanistan


Ahmedabad: Rassie van der Dussen’s composure and Gerald Coetzee’s fire helped experienced South Africa against spirited Afghanistan to a five-wicket victory in their final World Cup series match in Ahmedabad on Friday.

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Set a target of 245, South Africa, already assured of a place in the semi-finals, completed the task with Van der Dussen remaining unbeaten on 76 off 95 balls.

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Andile Phehlukwayo was unbeaten on 37 balls 39 after a match-winning 65-run partnership with Van der Dussen.

Earlier, pacer Coetzee took four wickets as Afghanistan were limited to 244 despite Azmatullah Omarzai’s impressive 97. Omarzai’s knock, however, helped the Afghans recover from 116 for six.

The defeat despite that, Afghanistan, who shocked the defending champions of England and Pakistan during a very promising campaign, go home with their heads held high.

Continuing his good run in the tournament, Omarzai faced 107 balls hitting seven fours and three sixes. However, he was unable to record his ODI debut after failing to score off the last three balls of the over bowled by Kagiso Rabada.

On the pitch without any demons, South Africa began their chase with confidence. But, as the game progressed, it didn’t look like they would like South Africa.

In the end, they pulled it off with 15 balls to spare after a powerful break.

In the form of Quinton de Kock (41 off 47 balls) he made his mind clear enough early with a four and six over Mujeeb Ur Rahman, dancing down the track to pummel the seasoned bowler over mid-on.

The fast left-arm batsman, who went past Rachin Ravindra to become the leading run-scorer in this tournament, pulled half-tracker Naveen-ul-Haq over deep square leg for a maximum.

De Kock, however, could not go on to make a big one as he was adjudged caught ahead of the bat by Mohammad Nabi, who opted for a review after failing to convince the on-field umpire.

Looking to reverse play, De Kock missed and the ball hit the pads, prompting Nabi to appeal. Afghanistan’s move to review the decision was upheld when ball tracking showed it was going to hit leg stump.

De Kock, who joined the likes of Adam Gilchrist and Sarfaraz Khan earlier in the day by taking six catches, hit two fours and three sixes.

Meanwhile, skipper Temba Bavuma’s poor run (23 off 28) continued as he was shown the door by Mujeeb, who had the batsman in all sorts of trouble with a back delivery that rushed him.

Bavuma, who appeared to struggle while fielding, appeared to be battling cramps after coming out to bat with the intention of spending some time in the middle following a string of poor scores .

Aiden Markram (25 off 32) also gave away his wicket after opening and Heinrich Klaasen was dismissed by the astute Rashid Khan, a well-deserved reward for some excellent bowling, as South Africa slumped to 139 for four. in 28th place.

A 43-run partnership ensued before Nabi’s rather soft dismissal of David Miller (24 off 33), leaving Van der Dussen to finish the job.

Earlier, Afghanistan were off to a steady start after their skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi chose to bat first, but South Africa meant business as they snared three wickets for four runs to leave their opponents in the presence of bother at 45 for three in the 11th over.

At that point, the decision to bat first seemed to backfire even as Bavuma channeled his resources well to keep South Africa ahead in the game.

But even before the Proteas could celebrate their first breakthrough they faced a worrying moment when pacer Lungi Ngidi went off the field after suffering from an ankle or Achilles issue.

Ngidi, however, returned to pick up the wickets of Rahmat Shah and Nabi, who took advantage of one for De Kock after he faced three balls, leaving his side at 116 for six in the 28th over.

After smoking lead pacer Rabada’s length ball outside off for a six over long-on, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (25) found the fence again when he produced a beautiful cover driver against the same bowler.

Looking for a lead, Bavuma brought Keshav Maharaj into the attack and the left-arm spinner immediately responded with the big wicket of Gurbaz, who edged a spin delivery to Klaasen at first slip.

Maharaj not only struck with his first ball, he also enjoyed a wicket maiden, which gave South Africa a bit of momentum which they capitalized on by taking two more wickets in quick succession.

Expectations were high from Ibrahim Zadran, who scored a brilliant century against Australia in their last match, but it was a short ball from Coetzee that opened the scoring.

Omarzai, however, continued to fight him.

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