Mumbai: Advancing into the Super 10 stage for the first time in three attempts, minnows Afghanistan will face a formidable challenge when they clash with South Africa in the ICC World Twenty 20 Championship at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday.
Afghanistan suffered a narrow defeat against defending champions Sri Lanka in their opening Group 1 game at Kolkata's Eden Gardens and they will have to get across South Africa to keep themselves afloat.
The Proteas, on the other hand, suffered a stunning two-wicket loss against England last night despite scoring a record-high score of 229 for 4 and Faf du Plessis' men would come hard at the Afghans, eager to notch up their first win in the tournament to stay in contention for the last four berth.
The Afghans need to stand up to this assault, with both bat and ball from South Africa whose bowlers –- barring Imran Tahir –- were taken to the cleaners by the Joe Root inspired England.
Can a bunch of amateur cricketers defeat a top outfit like South Africa, who will be coming at them at full tilt, and remain in contention for a semi-final spot, is the big question.
Jean-Paul Duminy, who played an important all-round part for South Africa by striking a brisk 28-ball 54 and then snapping 1 for 31, said that his team needs to put the defeat behind and focus on the match against Afghanistan.
"Extras (26) let us down, we bowled too many wides (20) and so forth; that's something we have to look at. There were positives, especially from batting point of view, but there's need for improvement from bowling point of view," he said.
"We made errors and have to rectify them. We are under the pump. We have to pretty much win every game from now. We need to do something differently. From Sunday we have to make sure we execute plans well. By no means we're out of the tournament. There's lot more pressure but we have done it before.
"We have to move on to the next game. It's a quick turnaround for us as the Afghanistan game is coming up on Sunday. We need to make sure we are prepared for it," said
The pace attack of the Proteas, which leaked runs aplenty to allow Root and company stage a magnificent run chase, is unlikely to be as accommodative to the Afghans led by Asghar Stanikzai.
Stanikzai was the lone top-order batsman to come out with his reputation enhanced with a knock of 62 against Sri Lanka and he not only needs to fire big again, but would require good support from the likes of opener Mohammad Shahzad and middle-order batsman Mohammed Nabi.