Afghanistan have a tough task ahead big guns South Africa © Getty Images
Afghanistan have a tough task ahead big guns South Africa © Getty Images

Afghanistan have played some good cricket in qualifiers to enter the Super 10 stage of T20 World Cup 2016 and they are all set to take South Africa in their second match of the tournament. The last game against Sri Lanka showed what they are capable of and simultaneously exhibiting the lack of experience in crunch situations and their inability to hold onto nerves in ending stages of the game. A few instances of sloppy fielding cost them the match against Defending Champions Sri Lanka. There were some positives taken from the match which they can put to effect in the coming fixtures. They have to go against mighty South Africa, wounded due to defeat against England in a high scoring thriller. They will be playing the Proteas on the same high scoring pitch which will help South Africa’s in-form batsmen. Spin bowling is Afghanistan’s only chance of restricting South Africa from scoring at a brisk rate. Not many changes are expected in the Afghanistan side, but here are possible XI to play on Sunday: LIVE SCOREBOARD: Afghanistan vs South Africa

Top Order: Afghanistan’s top order has been fairly consistent in last few games. They are not throwing away their wickets and at the same time not eating up many deliveries. Ahmed Shehzad is having a fantastic outing, failing to score in only one match. There has been some  shuffle between opener and No.3 batman among Asghar Stanikzai and Noor Ali Zadran. Both have had a fair share of knocks in the tournament. But Stanikzai stole the show in last match. scoring a crucial half century. They will be expected to continue their consistency against South Africa. Their main area of concern will be to keep their wickets intact at least through the power play and then capitalize. Wankhede’s pitch does not provide much support system to the bowlers but the likes of Dale Steyn, Chris Morris and Rabada need to be feared on any pitch.

Middle Order: Samiullah Shenwari is the most impressive batsman in Afghanistan side and a pillar that strongholds their middle order. He takes his time to settle and then goes for the big shots. He even provided a quick fire cameo in the last match against Sri Lanka hitting the ball according to his will. Gulbadin Naib has not succeeded to find his rhythm and struggled in the tournament. And then comes the skipper Mohammad Nabi, he been on-off with his consistency but can really hit the ball out of the park. Shafiqullah Sharif is also there chipping in with cameos but not with a stature to depend upon. Their middle order has to got through leggie Imran Tahir and JP Duminy’s spell followed by Dale Steyn, David Weise in the death overs.

Lower Order and Bowling: There are a few hitters down the order as well including Rashid Khan and Shafiqullah Shafiq who can knock a few in death overs. They are expected to pull off cameos as Wankhede’s pitch supports batsman. Dawlat Zadran and Hamid Hassan are not expected to be hitters in the lower order.
As mentioned by the skipper himself, their main weapon against South Africa will be spin. The skipper himself can bowl decent off break along with young sensation Rashid Khan who can pick up wickets and also keep a tab on the flow of runs. Dawlat Zadran and Hamid Hussain poses pace but lose track of line and length when under pressure. Shenwari also contributes to the bowling but needs to hit right areas against South African batsmen otherwise might end up with the worst figures of his career.

Arun Rawal, a reporter with CricketCountry is a daydreamer, movie buff and a cricket fanatic. He couldn’t play cricket so did the next best thing, writing for it, he loves to play the flick shot over square leg. P.S. Sachin is God!! His twitter handle is @ArunRawal93