South Africa vs Afghanistan T20 World Cup Semi Finals Clash 2024: All You Need to Know

South Africa vs Afghanistan ICC T20 World Cup 2024 Semi Final showdown.

Coach SA wants his team to enjoy “excitement and anxiety” during the low-key build-up to the semi-final. While spotlight on can Afghanistan defeat undefeated South Africa and carry on their dream run?

Coach Trott of Afghanistan feels that “pressure is on South Africa,” but Coach Walter of SA feels that the current group of players shouldn’t have to bear the weight of previous defeats.

South Africa vs Afghanistan T20 World Cup Semi Finals Clash 2024: All You Need to Know
Keshav Maharaj in the frame. Photo Credit: ICC via Getty Images

It is difficult to see team representatives outnumbering the press at a news conference prior to a World Cup semi-final, lest we become navel-gazers and assign too much weight to mainstream media. Rob Walter, the head coach of South Africa, showed up with a security guard and a media representative to address a single journalist.

Though South Africa’s World Cup campaign began similarly on Long Island, this is not the first time it has happened. Still, there’s something unsettling about a semi-final at the T20 World Cup 2024 generating little excitement in one of the cricket world’s most fervent hubs.

Almost one of the most fervent centers, that is. The Brian Lara Cricket Academy is situated on the outskirts of San Fernando, 50 kilometers away from Port-of-Spain. The private club that owns Queen’s Park Oval has fallen behind the times and refused to adapt, but moving such a major event from the iconic location in the center of Port-of-Spain to a venue that can’t accommodate as many people is like chopping off your nose to spite your face.

Next is the scheduling, which leaves teams with no time for practice. After arriving on Monday night, South Africa at least held an optional training session; nevertheless, Afghanistan completed their qualification late into Tuesday morning in preparation for a match on Wednesday. Please pardon them for skipping practice the day before the semifinal.

It’s not as though the ICC would have allowed anyone to see the training in any case. Two of the rare international fields where spectators may view the nets are MCG in Melbourne and Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Both offer valuable lessons to be learned.

In spite of all these issues and more, the World Cup has been an enormous success. On television, that is. Is that what the sport’s future holds? Simply put, the grounds’ supporters aren’t worth the trouble. It doesn’t appear that the cricket World Cup will need to have the festival atmosphere that other World Cups of sports do.

Not that it matters to South Africa. “This is an empty hall, which is a good sign, I think,” Walter joked when asked if it felt like a semi-final. They are said to freeze under the spotlight, so maybe it’s best to keep under the radar. “It’s not really about the press but about the occasion, isn’t it?” he said before putting the press in its proper position.

You can’t fool yourself into thinking it’s simply another game, as Walter did mention. It is preferable to accept it and the feelings that accompany it. How does it show up? How do you train differently? Do you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep?

Walter made the same joke, saying that since he never gets “very good” sleep, he is not the ideal person to discuss sleep quality. “I think there’s always an energy that you can feel that’s tangible when it comes to a semi-final,” he continued. “Anyone participating in any activity who reaches this stage of the competition will likely experience a range of feelings, including exhilaration and worry.

Therefore, all that really needs to be done is accept that fact, acknowledge it, and decide what to do with it. In tomorrow’s game, we still aim to play our best cricket during the crucial times.”

People believe that South Africa is different this time around since they have been winning close games, but this is a handy, nearly unfalsifiable argument because if they don’t win the title, it will be said again that they didn’t win “when it mattered the most”. Walter declined to contest that claim, stating that they should not bear the responsibility for any previous close misses.

“The near misses in the past, they belong to the people who missed them,” stated Walter. “This team is, to be honest, a different team. Whatever belongs to us, we own it. We’ve crossed the line in this event, so that’s our closest reflection point. Thus, that is what we consider.

That’s just what Jonathan Trott, an Englishman by nationality, an Afghanistan coach, and a fellow South African by birth is concentrating on. Shortly after defeating Bangladesh, Trott declared, “We go into the semi-final with no scars or history with regards to semi-finals.”

“This is unfamiliar ground for us. We simply intend to go all out and give it our best. There are no preconceived notions about it all or previous records of success or failure in the semifinals. We are up against a fresh challenge, which I believe makes us a formidable team in the semifinals with nothing to lose and plenty of pressure on the other team.”

Also Read: T20 World Cup Winners List from 2007 to 2023

Can Afghanistan defeat undefeated South Africa and carry on their dream run in the T20 World Cup Semi Final?

Match details

Afghanistan vs South Africa
Tarouba, 8.30pm local time

Gurbaz injured his knee against Bangladesh; it’s unclear if he’ll be able to participate.

South Africa vs Afghanistan T20 World Cup Semi Finals Clash 2024: All You Need to Know
Given Rahmanullah Gurbaz's injury, Afghanistan may have concerns. Photo Credit: ICC/Getty Images

Afghanistan participated in the Asian Cricket Council Trophy in 2004 and faced 15 teams in their first official match. Twenty years later, in the largest World Cup with 20 nations, they had accomplished the unimaginable by reaching their first World Cup semifinal.

They have accomplished in 20 years what many teams could take 50. Afghanistan has long possessed undeveloped talent. Because of the worldwide exposure from T20, they have now combined it with elite skills and are still improving them.

Rashid Khan, their captain and principal spinner, is possibly the most sought-after T20 player worldwide. Rahmanullah Gurbaz, their opener, can bruise opponents in the powerplay, while Noor Ahmad, their second spinner, is a left-arm Rashid.

With his variations, Naveen-ul-Haq has had Afghanistan’s bowling mentor and T20 legend Dwayne Bravo grooving and celebrating near the boundary. Fazalhaq Farooqi is on his way to become the next Trent Boult in T20 cricket. Eight members of Afghanistan’s XI from the IPL 2024 were involved in Monday’s victory over Bangladesh in Kingstown.

Next is Mohammad Nabi, who participated in Afghanistan’s inaugural official match in 2004. Nabi, 39, will play for Afghanistan in their first World Cup semi-final in a year that saw his son make his debut for the country in the Under-19 World Cup. Nabi will now want to add South Africa to his tally of victories, which now includes 45 teams.

After participating in a single game, Mujeeb Ur Rahman was eliminated from the competition; nonetheless, Afghanistan, led tactically by Bravo, still have sufficient depth to easily defeat opponents. Afghanistan’s 57 wickets in the World Cup are the most of any attack, and among the Super-Eight nations, their economy rate of 6.35 is second only to South Africa’s 6.10.

Afghanistan’s hitting, particularly in the middle order, lacks depth, nevertheless. Additionally, although Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran have formed four partnerships of fifty or more when batting first, they have only eight stands when pursuing against PNG, zero against the West Indies, and thirteen against India.

Thus, there’s a compelling argument for South Africa to force Afghanistan to chase, attempt to split their openers early, and exert pressure on the middle order. Their left-arm fingerspinner, Keshav Maharaj, will try to dominate his matchup against an Afghanistan lineup that is heavy on right-handers on a Tarouba surface that might still give erratic bounce.

The left-arm wristspinner Tabraiz Shamsi, who has played in the CPL several times during the winter from South Africa, might also be a threat due to his versatility and familiarity with Caribbean conditions.

Despite Reeza Hendricks’s struggles at the top, South Africa has a strong middle order that includes the spin-countering talents of Aiden Markram, Tristan Stubbs, and Heinrich Klaasen, as well as the hugely experienced David Miller to close off the innings.

Throughout the World Cup, South Africa has been close to failure on multiple occasions, but they have managed to rally for seven straight victories in difficult circumstances. To win their first World Cup, they must win two more. South Africa and India have the opportunity to write history this time around because no team has ever won a T20 World Cup without losing.

Rob Walter is in charge of South Africa's training. Photo Credit: ICC via Getty Images
Form guide

Afghanistan WWLLW (last five T20Is, most recent first)
South Africa WWWWW

Since there’s no need to introduce Afghanistan‘s spinners, let’s speak about Naveen-ul-Haq. If Mujeeb had been available, the seamer might not have accepted the fresh ball. But Naveen has done a fantastic job of filling in for Afghanistan’s powerplay spinner, lightening the pressure on Farooqi. He could have easily won ball of the tournament with his dismissal of Travis Head, which involved slanting in towards leg stump and then swinging and seaming away late to crash into middle.

On the Caribbean surfaces, Naveen has also proven to be challenging to pull away at the end of the game because to his arsenal of slower balls.

The match between Heinrich Klaasen and Rashid and Co. may decide how the game is played. Any spinner on any surface can have their rhythm disturbed by his quasi-pulls and slog-sweeps. In T20 cricket, since the beginning of 2023, he has struck at a rate of 182.12 against spin. Among the 41 batsmen who have faced spin in T20 cricket for at least 40 innings, he has the highest strike rate of any of them.

During Afghanistan’s defense against Bangladesh on Monday, Gurbaz was hit in the knee while keeping wicket in the opening over. Gurbaz left the field right away, and Mohammad Ishaq replaced him as the replacement keeper.

On the eve of the semifinal, Afghanistan did not train in Tarouba, and Gurbaz’s availability to play is still up in the air. Afghanistan may start Hazratullah Zazai at the top and possibly make another change to fit Ishaq in as a keeper and middle-order batsman if Gurbaz is unable to recuperate in time.

Afghanistan (probable): 1. Ibrahim Zadran, 2. Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk)/Hazratullah Zazai, 3. Azmatullah Omarzai, 4. Gulbadin Naib, 5. Mohammad Nabi, 6. Karim Janat/Mohammad Ishaq (wk), 7. Rashid Khan (capt), 8. Nangeyalia Kharote, 9. Naveen-ul-Haq, 10. Noor Ahmad, 11. Fazalhaq Farooqi

In a semi-final, South Africa might not take the chance of starting rookie Ryan Rickelton in place of Hendricks. With Tarouba’s inconsistent bounce and purchase for spinners, Shamsi is also set to maintain his position ahead of death-bowling expert Ottneil Baartman.

South Africa (probable): 1. Quinton de Kock (wk), 2. Reeza Hendricks, 3. Aiden Markram (capt), 4. David Miller, 5. Heinrich Klaasen, 6. Tristan Stubbs, 7. Marco Jansen, 8. Keshav Maharaj, 9. Kagiso Rabada, 10. Anrich Nortje, 11. Tabraiz Shamsi

Pitch and Conditions: More erratic bounce?

During the group stage, Tarouba’s conditions were characterized by fluctuating bounce. Daren Ganga, however, thinks that following two weeks of corrective work, the bounce will be truer on Wednesday. Dew has frequently played a significant role in the CPL matches held here.

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