South Africa never expected this. Yes, they might have thought of having a bad tournament. But only one point from the first four matches and sitting second last on the table? No, no, no. This World Cup has turned out to be a horror show for the Proteas, the only point they scavaged was due to rain in a match where they were already on the backfoot within seven overs.
On the other hand, Afghanistan. A team rising in the cricketing world, a team which is claimed as a fairy tale. They qualified for the tournament being the champions in the qualifiers, but the World Cup hasn’t given them much. Three defeats in three, Mohammad Shahzad’s controversial exclusion from the team - the team is chaotic. And if they want the chaos to transform into tranquility, they’ll need a win.
South Africa has problems everywhere. Their batting hasn’t been anywhere near their best, their bowling has looked toothless and most surprisingly, their fielding has been ordinary. Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi’s injury has only added to their woes, and only Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir looks like potential threats to the opponent. Saying so, none of them have shown any signs of top form. If South Africa wants to be still in the fight, they must come out all guns blazing.
Afghanistan wasn’t expected to do much, and they haven’t. They have been humbled in all three of their matches, even Sri Lanka beat them fairly easily. Their batting lineup is a mess, and with Shahzad’s exclusion, it has lost the intimidating factor they had in Zazai and Shahzad. Their bowlers fared well against Sri Lanka, but showed very little signs of fight against Australia and New Zealand as the teams milked runs fairly easily. The English conditions are not helping Rashid Khan, and with their prime asset being ineffective, the Afghans have had their fear factor reduced to a very low point.
Lungi Ngidi is still not 100%, and the South African management is unlikely to risk him. A choice between Aiden Markram and JP Duminy needs to be made, and with Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan being more of a threat to the left handers, Markram might make the cut.
Probable Lineup - 1. Quinton de Kock (wk), 2. Hashim Amla, 3. Aiden Markram, 4. Faf du Plessis ©, 5. Rassie van der Dussen, 6. David Miller, 7. Andile Phehlukwayo, 8. Chris Morris, 9. Kagiso Rabada, 10. Beuran Hendricks, 11. Imran Tahir
Mujib-ur-Rahman is unlikely to make it into the team considering the conditions in Cardiff, but if fit, Dawlat Zadran might. Noor Ali Zadran will come in to replace Shahzad, other changes look unlikely.
Probable Lineup - 1. Hazratullah Zazai, 2. Noor Ali Zadran, 3. Rahmat Shah, 4. Hasmatullah Shahidi, 5. Gulbadin Naib ©, 6. Mohammad Nabi, 7. Najibullah Zadran, 8. Ikram Alikhil (wk), 9. Rashid Khan, 10. Dawlat Zadran, 11. Hamid Hassan
Pitch and Conditions
The Cardiff pitch has been friendly to bowlers in a match and to batsmen in the other. But all of the earlier matches were played during the way, while the clash on Saturday is set to be a day-night affair.
The weather forecast predicts rain during the day, but also says it should be away by the end of the day.