South Africa vs Afghanistan: Preview and Prediction

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Afghanistan have qualified for their first-ever semi-finals of any World Cup

Unlikely semi-finalists, Afghanistan will take on South Africa in the first knockout game of the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup to be played at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad. The game will be played late on Wednesday night in local time which translates to 6 am IST on Thursday in India.

Afghanistan has been the story of the World Cup, rising from obscurity to make their way into the top four. They have beaten three Test-playing nations, New Zealand, Australia and Bangladesh, to qualify for their first-ever semi-final in any ICC World Cup. 

Lying between them and the dream are South Africa, who have survived several close games and nervy moments to make it through to the semi-final. The Proteas are unbeaten in the 2024 T20 World Cup thus far, winning seven games in a row, the most any team has won in a single edition of the tournament.

What has happened so far?

South Africa has scrambled past everything that has come their way in this World Cup. They finished on top of their group in the first round, beating Sri Lanka and the Netherlands convincingly by six and four wickets, respectively, before narrowly escaping against Bangladesh and Nepal. 

Their games in the Super Eight were tightly contested as well. Against the USA, they got off to a great start, making 126-2 in their first 12.1 overs before managing only 68 runs in the last 47 balls, ending up below 200. The Proteas beat the USA comfortably in the end, but they would have hoped for a more clinical performance and were fortunate enough to escape with a seven-run win against England and then won a last-over thriller in a virtual knockout against the West Indies to seal their first semis spot in a decade. 

Afghanistan, on the other hand, have grown in belief ever since they beat New Zealand in the group stage encounter. Rashid Khan’s team was unbeaten after their first three games in the tournament, with big wins against Uganda, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. 

They lost two in a row thereafter, falling short by a massive 104 runs against the West Indies and then going down by 47 runs against India. However, they have bounced back in style, defeating Australia and Bangladesh in must-win games to make the first semi-final. 

Head to Head Record

The two teams have not played each other in the last eight years, with their last appearance coming back in 2016 during the T20 World Cup. South Africa had won the game by 37 runs. It was the second time the two sides met in the tournament. They played against each other in the 2010 T20 World Cup as well, with Afghanistan losing by 59 runs. 

The unfamiliarity of playing against each other adds an extra element of interest in the game, which is supposed to be low-scoring yet again. 

Key Players

David Miller is a good player of spin and will hold the key in the middle overs

David Miller (South Africa): The middle-order batter has blown hot and cold in the T20 World Cup but will have a massive role to play in the semi-final in the middle overs. Millers is one of the better players of spin in the South Africa line-up, averaging 47 against them in T20Is. 

Afghanistan is a spin-heavy team and how Miller navigates the slower bowlers will play a massive factor in which way the match goes. 

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan): Rashid Khan would need to play a big role in the semi-final if Afghanistan harbours dreams of qualifying for the final on Saturday. Rashid, a vastly experienced campaigner, turned the game against Bangladesh with figures of 4-23, including getting a double strike in the 11th over to bring his team back into the match.

The Afghan skipper has picked up 14 wickets in this T20 World Cup, the third-highest in the edition, at an average of 12.21. He also scored a 10-ball 19 with the bat, ensuring a strong end to his team’s innings. 

Predicted XIs

South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram ©, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Tristan Stubbs, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Tabraiz Shamsi

Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Janat, Rashid Khan ©, Nangeyalia Kharote, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi


Despite what the team rankings suggest, it is expected to be a close semi-final in Trinidad. Both teams have a strong spin attack to take advantage of the slow conditions that will be on offer and it will come down to the team that handles pressure better on the day. 

The toss could also play a massive factor. All of Afghanistan’s wins against the big sides have come while defending a small target. They have won just one game batting second against PNG, and are a better bowling side than a batting one and could be under pressure in a big run chase. 

Neither South Africa nor Afghanistan have ever played in the final of the T20 World Cup, ensuring we will have a first-time finalists in 2024.