Last-placed Afghanistan plays against second-last South Africa. In most World Cups, this would indicate that two associate teams were playing, perhaps for bragging rights as to who is closest to test level, but in this World Cup, this is a battle between two test teams, one who was the third team ever to be granted test status and the world’s number 3 team, and the other who are the great improver. The good news is that, barring rain, one of these teams will register their first win. The bad news is that, for both teams, their World Cup so far is already far worse than they had expected. If South Africa win, it gives them a hint of a hope of a chance of a World Cup victory, at least if 5-3-1 is enough to make the semi-finals, which it probably won’t be. If Afghanistan win, well, at least they won’t be last. Of note, Afghanistan has never beaten South Africa, but in the early stages of their development that doesn’t mean a whole lot.
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Five Fearless Predictions:
(1) South Africa will win!
I know that I’ve picked them to win in all four of their previous matches but this one I’m really confident about, even more confident than I was about them beating Bangladesh, the one where they lost in thrilling scenes. It’d take something amazing for Afghanistan to win it.
(2) We’ll all blame A B de Villiers
No matter what happens, there is a growing certainty that he should have been playing. It’s kind of like how Pakistan left Mohammad Amir out of their original squad, or Jofra Archer wasn’t in England’s. Both teams saw some sense and brought them in after a while. West Indies, of course, left out their equivalent in Marlon Samuels, as well as Keiron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo, but that’s a different situation. If South Africa win, people will be saying they would have been 4-0 had de Villiers been there. If they lose, then the people who decided to reject his offer to play will be blamed big time.
(3) Rassie van der Dussen will shine
He got that incredible record for a reason, where he averaged close to 100 in ODI cricket prior to the World Cup, and I think it’s high time he shows what he is capable of. Time for a century.
(4) Kagiso Rabada will put in a lone effort
He’s just about the only bowler left, what with Dale Steyn out of the tournament and Lungi Ngidi’s tournament life on life support, so it’s about time for him to do a big one, like what Mohammad Amir did against Australia. He’s certainly capable of it, so it’s time to show just what he can do.
(5) Rashid Khan the batsman
I loved that in the IPL Rashid Khan would occasionally bat up the order and do really well, yet for Afghanistan they don’t seem keen on trying it. So I’d love to see him do well as a batsman. His bowling has been found out somewhat in the World Cup so far. We just saw Pakistan’s bowler Wahab Riaz put on a show with the bat, so I’d love to see Rashid Khan do something similar.