After failing to defend a massive score of 229 against England, South Africa are faced with a must-win situation when they take on a low-key Afghanistan side in their second Group 1 clash of the World Twenty20 cricket tournament at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.
Although the Proteas posted a formidable 229/4 in their 20 overs, the England batsmen played aggressively right from the start to chase down the target in 19.4 overs.
Afghanistan, on the other hand, have lost to Sri Lanka in their first match by six wickets and also face a must-win game on Sunday.
The Faf du Plessis-led South Africa side have been consistent when it comes to batting, but they must get their homework done in their bowling department ahead of the crucial game.
The likes of Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla at the top and AB de Villiers, David Miller, Jean-Paul Duminy, Du Plessis and all-rounders Chris Morris and David Wiese in the middle and lower order have delivered in most outings, posting big totals. But it has been the bowling which has let them down against England and much improvement is needed ahead of Sunday’s clash.
Experienced pacer Dale Steyn, young Kagiso Rabada and Morris, Duminy, Kyle Abbott all went for plenty and despite their opposition on Sunday being not strong, the South Africans can’t take Afghanistan lightly.
Du Plessis will hope the bowlers learn from the mistakes they did in the first match and come up with a good show to stay alive in the tournament.
On the other hand, Afghanistan, who remained unbeaten in the qualifiers leading up to this tournament, must be brimming with confidence as they have made it to every World T20 after 2010.
Also, posting 153/7 against defending champions Sri Lanka in their first match is quite an achievement for them. Skipper Asghar Stanikzai, who scored an impressive 63 in their last match, will be the key man for the Afghans when it comes to batting.
The bowling department will be led by pacers Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran. The 17-year-old leg-spinner Rashid Khan will be someone to watch out for against the Proteas after his stunning show in the qualifiers.
Keeping in mind the strength and experience of the squad, South Africa start as favourites to win the tie.
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, Jean-Paul Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (captain), Dawlat Zadran, Hamid Hassan, Mohammad Nabi, Najibullah Zadran, Rashid Khan, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Amir Hamza, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Sadiq, Mohammad Shahzad, Noor Ali Zadran, Samiullah Shenwari, Shapoor Zadran, Mirwais Ashraf.
(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at email@example.com)