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ICC ODI World Cup 2023: South Africa vs. Afghanistan, 42nd Match at Ahmedabad Who will win today’s match between SA and AFG?

ICC ODI World Cup 2023: South Africa vs. Afghanistan 42th Match at Ahmedabad. Who will win today’s match between SA vs AFG?

Introduction

The ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 is underway in India, with ten teams battling for glory in the prestigious quadrennial event. As the group stage enters its final week, South Africa and Afghanistan are set for an exciting clash at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 9th. This will be the 42nd match of the tournament. Both teams find themselves in contrasting positions. While South Africa aims to seal a semifinal spot, Afghanistan is playing for pride after being eliminated. However, with the likes of Rashid Khan and Rahmat Shah in their ranks, Afghanistan hopes to cause an upset against the Proteas. South Africa has won six of their eight matches so far but will be wary of complacency against Afghanistan's talented bowling attack. Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram have been amongst the runs for SA, while Kagiso Rabada leads the wicket charts. Overall, it promises to be an absorbing battle between two well-matched sides.

South Africa Team Preview

South Africa has assembled a well-balanced 15-member squad led by veteran opener Temba Bavuma. The batting unit has an exciting mix of aggressors like Quinton de Kock Rassie van der Dussen and anchor batters like Aiden Markram and David Miller. Markram, in particular, has been in sublime touch with two centuries already. The bowling, too, wears a settled look with Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, and Lungi Ngidi forming a world-class pace trio. Spinners Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj add guile and control in the middle overs. Marco Jansen provides left-arm variety. Overall, the Proteas have all bases covered. They have hit good form coming into the World Cup, too, with series wins against India and England. The only concern has been skipper Bavuma's indifferent form. But if the top-order fires, South Africa has the all-round ability to go all the way.

Afghanistan Team Preview

The experienced Hashmatullah Shahidi leads Afghanistan's squad and features several talented players who ply their trade globally in T20 leagues. The batting department is spearheaded by wicketkeeper Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who can take any attack apart on his day. Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah provide solidity, while the veteran Mohammad Nabi strengthens the middle order. The real strength of the side lies in its world-class spin bowling trio - Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, and Mohammed Nabi. They are backed up well by quicks like Naveen ul Haq and Fareed Ahmad. With his fast leg-breaks and sharp googlies, Rashid Khan remains the premier bowler. Afghanistan's bowling unit can defend even low totals. Afghanistan has won four of their eight matches, including a stunning upset against Sri Lanka. However, their batting needs to be more balanced and over-reliant on a few players. The team hopes to finish on a high even if a semifinal spot looks unlikely now.

Head-to-Head Record

South Africa and Afghanistan have faced each other only four times in ODI history, with the Proteas leading the head-to-head 3-1. Their first meeting was during the 2015 World Cup in New Zealand when South Africa won by a massive 231 runs after posting 408/5, the highest World Cup total. Four years later, they met again at the 2019 World Cup in Cardiff. This time, Afghanistan pushed the Proteas close, taking the game into the final over while chasing 224 before losing by just nine runs. Rashid Khan excelled with 3/69. Their most recent ODI series came in early 2022 when Afghanistan toured South Africa. The hosts dominated again, completing a 3-0 whitewash. Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock, and Temba Bavuma scored big runs while the SA pacers shared the wickets. Overall, South Africa has found Afghanistan's spin threat challenging but prevailed, thanks to the depth in their batting. Going by the lopsided H2H, they will be confident of another win. But Afghanistan has shown gradual improvement against top teams.

Pitch and Conditions

The pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad generally favors spinners, getting slower as the match progresses. It assists turn, and variable bounce makes strokeplay tricky for the batters. In the recent India vs England ODI here, the par score was around 320, with England posting 317 and India getting bowled out for 316. The spinners accounted for the bulk of the wickets. Adil Rashid and Kuldeep Yadav both picked up 4-fers in that game. The match-day weather forecast predicts temperatures around 29 degrees Celsius with moderate humidity levels. There is no threat of rain, which is welcome news for both teams. Batting first is the preferred option. Judging by previous games here, anything over 300 would be a very competitive total. The pitch will get increasingly difficult to bat on in the second innings. The spinners, especially the wrist-spinners, could prove decisive in the outcome. With quality slow bowlers on both sides, Rashid Khan and Tabraiz Shamsi, their battle could determine the course of the match. The team winning the toss will look to unleash their spinners with the older ball and attack the opposition in the middle overs.

Key Battles to Watch Out For

Quinton de Kock vs Rashid Khan: South Africa's swashbuckling opener against Afghanistan's star leg-spinner will be fascinating. De Kock has a brilliant record in ODIs but will be tested by Rashid's googlies and flippers. If he gets going, it could spell trouble for the Afghans. Rahmat Shah vs Kagiso Rabada: Afghanistan's solid number three Rahmat Shah will have to counter South Africa's pace spearhead Rabada at the start of the innings. Rabada will test him with his speed, bounce, and movement. Shah's concentration against the new ball will be crucial. Rassie van der Dussen vs. Mujeeb Ur Rahman: The Proteas' number three, van der Dussen, is a vital cog in their batting unit. Mujeeb brings mystery spin into play with his carrom ball bowling. If Mujeeb can outfox van der Dussen early, it will dent South Africa's middle-order stability. Aiden Markram vs Naveen-ul-Haq: Markram has already been South Africa's batting star with two player-of-the-match performances. Naveen provides Afghanistan with a right-arm pace, and he must find a way past Markram's solid technique and concentration. Their battle could define the innings.

Prediction

Based on the squad depth, recent form, and favorable record against Afghanistan, South Africa would be a clear favorite for this contest. They have a more well-rounded team with world-class performers in both bowling and batting departments. Conversely, Afghanistan will rely heavily on their spinners to pull off something special as their batters have struggled for consistency against top teams. While Rashid and Mujeeb are world-class operators, they often need adequate support from the rest of the bowling group and fielders. South Africa also has the experience of handling quality spin in the IPL and from playing many games on Indian pitches. Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, and David Miller are adept players of spin. Barring an unexpectedly weak batting performance like the one against Bangladesh, South Africa should feel confident chasing down any target or posting 300+ batting first. Afghanistan's batting is too brittle to be expected to chase a big total.

Prediction: South Africa to win comfortably by five wickets or a big margin in batting first.

Impact on the World Cup

This match is a must-win for South Africa in their goal of qualifying for the semifinals. A victory would give them four wins from 6 games, almost assuring them of a last-four spot. It would also boost their chances of finishing in the top two in the 10-team table. Only pride is left to play for Afghanistan after five losses in 6 games ended their knockout hopes. But they would love to show what they can do by upsetting a major team like South Africa. A win would be a stunning result, even if it doesn't change Afghanistan's 2023 World Cup fate. South Africa will know that any slip-up could massively dent their knockout aspirations. But their squad appears well-prepared and focused under coach Mark Boucher to avoid any such situation. Expect them to step up professionally against Afghanistan before a tougher test awaits Group 1 leaders India next. With teams like England and Sri Lanka also vying for the semifinal spots, South Africa knows every point and net run rate boost counts in the final standings. Beating Afghanistan well would strengthen the Proteas' position and build momentum for the business end of the tournament.

Conclusion

South Africa and Afghanistan appear headed in contrasting directions going into their late-tournament World Cup face-off. While the Proteas still hope to make the last four, Afghanistan's slim chances are already over after some plucky performances failed to translate into enough wins. For South Africa, it is a chance to get closer to a semifinal berth that has frustratingly eluded them in previous World Cups. With a power-packed batting unit and a three-pronged pace attack spearheaded by Kagiso Rabada, the Proteas have the team balance and motivation to beat Afghanistan comfortably as long as they execute their skills professionally. Afghanistan would need an extraordinary effort from stars like Rashid Khan and Rahmat Shah to challenge South Africa. But their over-reliance on spin and a few batters still need to be solved against top teams. Considering these factors, South Africa will undoubtedly start as favorites for this 42nd World Cup match at Ahmedabad. The pitch and conditions also favor their strengths. If SA plays to potential, they should emerge with a win that sets them up nicely for a first World Cup semifinal spot since 2015.

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