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World Cup 2019, Match21- SA Vs AFG, Preview: Battered Teams Chase First Win In Cardiff

“Both the teams are yet to record their first win in the tournament.”

In the second match lined up of the exciting double-header Saturday (June 15), South Africa will be locking horns with Afghanistan at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff. Both the teams are arriving into this game after witnessing contrasting results in their respective previous outings. South Africa’s last game against the Windies ended as a washout, while Afghanistan were handed a convincing defeat by New Zealand. Thus, both these teams will be quite desperate to record their first victory in the competition.

Playing South Africa in a bilateral series and in an ICC tournament have become two different things in the last two decades and the Proteas only have themselves to blame. They were given so many names which mocked their status and their performance in the 2019 World Cup has not helped in this prospect. They have one solitary point in their tally which came via a washout.

Although no one expected Afghanistan to do wonders this tournament, people expected them to push the top sides very hard to get their results. It hasn’t been the case so far as they ended up losing all three games they played and their morale doesn’t appear to be very high. Although their Saturday’s opponents are not on a good run, it makes their job no easy.

Afghanistan got off to the worst possible start in the 2019 World Cup. With losses in all three matches, Gulbadin Naib and Co are languishing at the bottom of the points table. Albeit, they gave Sri Lanka a run for their money, the Afghans have been way off their mark. Against New Zealand in the last match in Taunton, they threw away a good start given by the openers and lost the match by seven wickets.

This is a make or break situation for both sides, especially South Africa, who don’t wish to give up on their hopes to qualify for the semifinals. They don’t look completely in control of their fate right now, but some good performances from here could always bring them into the picture.

South Africa’s likely Playing XI

The Proteas may not want to change their lineup after the washed-off match. Quinton de Kock has blown a tad hot and cold, having got three low scores and the left-hander will be keen to show a bit more consistency. Concerns remain over Hashim Amla’s form as the veteran has scored only 25 runs thus far at an average of 8.33. Aiden Markram hasn’t looked in full flow either.

Rassie van der Dussen had a groin issue, but he’s fit to play. David Miller has been reasonable. In the bowling department, the pacers- Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, and Chris Morris- have been amongst the wickets, though they haven’t been outstanding. There’s no update on Lungi Ngidi’s return. Veteran leg-spinner Imran Tahir has picked up a few crucial wickets as well.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Aiden Markram, Faf du Plessis (c), Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Beuran Hendricks.

Afghanistan’s likely Playing XI

The Afghans made a few changes to their eleven in the previous game, but this time they might not make any alterations. Noor Ali Zadran, who replaced Mohammad Shahzad as the opener, looked in excellent touch while playing the new leather. Hazratullah Zazai has looked threatening and he needs to play a long inning to make a greater impact. Rahmat Shah also had two bad outings after his 43 versus Australia.

Hashmatullah Shahidi would be high on confidence following his half-century in the last encounter. Skipper Gulbadin has been out of form, delivering neither with bat nor ball. Najibullah has been their best bet with the bat in hand. Aftab Ahmed came in place of Dawlat Zadran and he chipped in with three important wickets. Rashid Khan has been economical but needs to get more wickets.

Probable XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Noor Ali Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi, Gulbadin Naib (C), Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Ikram Ali Khil (wk), Rashid Khan, Aftab Alam, Hamid Hassan.

Match Timings- 6:00 pm IST and 1:30 local

Broadcast Details- Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD.