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Proteas get golden opportunity for a first World Cup victory

Afghanistan lost their final nine wickets for 69 runs. South Africa need just 127-run to win (adjusted for the lost overs).

South Africa vs Afghanistan at the Cricket World Cup. Picture: OfficialCSA/Twitter.

CARDIFF - A return of 4/29 from 7 overs from Imran Tahir helped bowl Afghanistan out for 125 to give the Proteas a golden opportunity for a first World Cup victory in Cardiff.

The forty-year-old leg spinner ripped two scalps in his first over in a period of play that saw five wickets fall for just eight runs in 28 balls.

This deluge of wickets came after brief showers halted play with the score on 69/2 after 20 overs. Opener Door Ali Zadran had taken his score to 32 and had Hashmatullah Shahidi for company.

But their union was torn apart by Andile Phehlukwayo (2/18 from 8 overs) who offered a tempting full ball to Shahid which prompted a wafting drive that ended with a simple catch for Faf du Plessis in the slips.

Then Tahir’s burst through Zadran’s defence with a biting googly and held on to an easy return catch after finding Asghar Afghan’s leading edge.

The wickets continued to tumble as Phehlukwayo cramped Mohammad Nabi who chopped on. Aiden Markram then plucked an impressive grab at midwicket after Gulbadin Naib failed to dispatch a Tahir half tracker to the boundary.

After winning the toss, du Plessis opted to bowl first on a green wicket but it took 8.2 overs before there was a breakthrough. Hazratullah Zazai was aggressive from the off but played one shot too many when he holed out to a diving Rassie van der Dussen at deep square off Kagiso Rabada (1/36 from 8 overs).

Chris Morris (3/13 from 6.1 overs) bowled well today and pinned Rahmat Shah in the crease with short stuff before trapping him with a full one that whacked him on the pad in front of his stumps.

Then came the rain and the delay which reduced the game to 48 overs per side. South Africa wouldn’t need them as wickets fell with regularity.

Morris had another when Hashim Amla’s safe hands at slip made no mistake from an outside edge off Ikram Alikhil’s bat.

With the score on 111/8, Rashid Khan began throwing his hands at everything that came his way and was entertaining for his 25 ball cameo worth 35 runs. He spanked Tahir for three fours in four balls but the bowler had the last laugh when van der Dussen plucked the ball inches from the fence at cow corner.

The final Afghan wicket was secured two balls later with Du Plessis pouching a top-edge skier from Hamid Hassan to give Morris his third.

Afghanistan lost their final nine wickets for 69 runs. South Africa need just 127-run to win (adjusted for the lost overs). The result should be a formality. All that remains to be seen is how quickly the Proteas can knock these off.

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