Cricket news - Tahir, de Kock power South Africa to their first win this World Cup

Tahir registered figures of 4 for 29.

Soon after a rain-abandoned game afforded them their first points, South Africa picked up two points on their own in their fifth game in the ICC World Cup 2019, securing a nine-wicket win by DLS method over Afghanistan in Cardiff on Saturday (June 15). Set 126, after Afghanistan folded for 125, South Africa eased past the line in 28.4 overs after a tentative start from the openers.

Afghanistan's innings was a mess and though they played some promising cricket early in the day, their ineptness in challenging conditions came to the fore once again. The batsmen didn't learn from their collapse against Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament and on the day lost five for eight runs in 28 balls between the 21st over and the 26th to lose the game. Just pick the 34th over for instance. Imran Tahir bowling to Rashid Khan and the over read - 4, 4, 2, 4, W. Rashid had bossed the over and ended up dragging a short hit-me ball to deep midwicket.

By the time the 34th over came, the damage was of course done but that over summarised Afghanistan's shambolic approach. One could argue that Afghanistan were robbed of any sort of momentum by the two rain breaks and they were undone by the skill of Tahir - and both arguments are true - but the batsmen will have to shoulder a lot of the blame for their appalling show.

In the first 5.5 overs, before players were forced out by rain, the Afghanistan openers - Hazratullah Zazai and Noor Ali Zadran - scored 33 runs and picked up boundaries at will to put Kagiso Rabada and Beuran Hendricks under pressure. Rabada, however, set a beautiful trap for Zazai and then bounced him out with 39 on the board soon after play resumed. And that's where Afghanistan's struggle also began.

In the 40 balls after the break, Zadran and Rahmat Shah played out 35 balls as the pressure mounted. Shah fell for six and Afghanistan were again in repair mode when the second break arrived. The rain forced the players out for almost an hour when Afghanistan were 69 for 2 in 20 overs. With the runs dried out, the batsmen were itching and it reflected after play resumed. Andile Phehlukwayo started the collapse when he had Hashmatullah Shahidi caught at slip after an adventurous drive. Tahir dismissed Asghar Afghan and Zadran with googlies as Afghanistan slipped from 69 for 2 to 70 for 5.

With all hopes pinned on Mohammad Nabi, the fans were again let down by the approach. Nabi chopped one back on chasing a wide one from Phehlukwayo while Gulbadin Naib pulled a short ball straight to mid-wicket. The match was already in South Africa's hands at 77 for 7 before Rashid and Ikram Ali Khil got a few boundaries to push the score past 100. There wasn't much resistance from the lower-order, as expected, and Rashid's 25-ball 35 stood out among the ruins.

With a small chase, the South Africa openers had the cushion to make a cautious start. Instead, they were tentative and short on confidence. Only 35 runs came in the first ten overs - the powerplay that saw five boundaries but plenty of dot balls. The run rate did pick up as both batsmen grew in confidence, with de Kock going on to make his half-century off 58 balls. De Kock fell soon after South Africa crossed the 100-run mark when he flicked a Naib delivery straight to midwicket.

South Africa, however, didn't walk away from the contest with all the answers. Amla looked horribly out of form and did nothing to ease the nerves of the doubting Thomases. With the game against New Zealand next, the next question for South Africa will be if they want to continue with an out-of-form Amla at the top or want to include an out-of-form JP Duminy in the middle order.

Brief scores: Afghanistan 125 in 34.1 overs (Rashid Khan 35; Imran Tahir 4-29, Chris Morris 3-13) lost to South Africa 131/1 in 28.4 overs (Quinton de Kock 68) by nine wickets (DLS).

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