Riding on swashbuckling batsman AB de Villiers' quickfire half-century (64 off 29 balls) followed by seamer Chris Morris' impressive four-wicket haul, South Africa edged past a spirited Afghanistan by 37 runs in their second Group 1 clash of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
South Africa's Chris Morris (L) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad during the World T20 cricket tournament match between Afghanistan and South Africa at The Wankhede Cricket Stadium in Mumbai on March 20, 2016. Pic/AFP
Batting first, the Proteas posted 209/5 in 20 overs, which included crucial knocks from De Villiers, Quinton de Kock (45) and Faf du Plessis (41).
In reply, despite opener Mohammad Shahzad’s blistering 19-ball 44 at the start, Afghanistan lost wickets at regular intervals and were bundled out for 172 in 20 overs.
For South Africa, Chris Morris (4-27), Imran Tahir (2-24), Kyle Abbott (2-36) and Kagiso Rabada (2-37) were the pick of the bowlers.
Chasing a stiff target of 210, opener Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran (25) got Afghanistan off to a rollicking start, scoring 50 inside four overs.
Shahzad struck three fours and five sixes but his stay in the middle was short-lived as seamer Chris Morris cleaned him up to help South Africa claw back into the game.
Skipper Asghar Stanikzai (7) who came in next too fell cheaply to have the team struggling at 60/2 in sixth over.
Inexperience in the middle order showed as Gulbadin Naib (26), Mohammad Nabi (11), Samiullah Shenwari (25) all were dismissed despite getting starts.
The Proteas' bowlers, despite getting hit for runs, picked up wickets at regular intervals in the middle overs to have the opposition in the backfoot.
South Africa's AB de Villiers plays a shot during the World T20 cricket tournament match between Afghanistan and South Africa at the Wankhede Cricket Stadium in Mumbai on March 20, 2016. Pic/AFP
Earlier opting to bat, South Africa were given a flying start by openers Quinton de Kock (45) and Hashim Amla (5), scoring 21 runs off the first two overs.
But Amla's stay at the crease was cut short as, while trying to hit the ball over the covers, the right-handed batsman chipped it straight to Asghar Stanikzai at mid-off off the bowling of Shapoor Zadran to have team at 25/1 inside three overs.
But Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis (41) played positively along with De Kock to help team post 66 runs after the powerplay.
Du Plessis, who struck seven boundaries and a six, was becoming a threat to Afghan bowlers. He was run out when Mohammad Nabi came up with a good effort in the field which was followed by an electrifying throw to wicket-keeper Mohammad Shahzad who removed the bails easily to catch Du Plessis short of the crease.
The Proteas received a double blow as another set batsman De Kock after smacking six fours and two sixes in his 31-ball innings nicked it to keeper off the bowling off Amir Hamza to have South Africa at 97/3 in 12th over.
Next up, it was an entirely de Villiers show as after he took a bit of time to settle down. Finally, he exposed himself smacking leg-spinner Rashid Khan off 29 runs in 17th over which included four sixes, one four and a single to bring up his eighth T20I half-century in just 24 balls.
De Villiers and his partner Jean-Paul Duminy (29 not out) struck 76-run partnership for the fourth wicket to take team past 150-run mark.
But with the dismissal of De Villiers in the 18th over, Duminy and David Miller (19) ensured team got past 200-run mark.
Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Amir Hamza claimed one wicket each for Afghanistan.
South Africa 209/5 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 64, Quinton de Kock 45, Faf du Plessis 41; Amir Hamza 1/25, Shapoor Zadran 1/28, Mohammad Nabi 1/35, Dawlat Zadran 1/46) vs Afghanistan 172 in 20 overs (Mohammad Shahzad 44; Chris Morris 4-27, Imran Tahir 2-24, Kyle Abbott 2-36, Kagiso Rabada 2-37)
Full scorecard: http://www.mid-day.com/cricket-scorecard