|ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup|
|Afghanistan 125 (34.1 overs): Rashid 35, Tahir 4-29|
|South Africa 131-1 (28.1 overs): De Kock 68, Gulbadin 1-29|
|South Africa won by nine wickets (DLS method)|
|Scorecard; Table; Schedule|
South Africa revived their World Cup hopes with a nine-wicket victory over Afghanistan in Cardiff.
Having failed to win any of their first four matches, they dismissed a winless Afghanistan for 125 after two rain delays cut the match to 48 overs.
Imran Tahir struck twice in his first over and took 4-29 as Afghanistan lost five for eight in 29 balls.
Quinton de Kock made 68 as South Africa reached their revised target of 127 with 19.5 overs to spare.
Tahir sparks Afghanistan slide
Bowled out for 207 in the opening match to lose to England by 107 runs, further defeats followed against Bangladesh and India for South Africa, with their only point accrued in a fixture against West Indies at Southampton abandoned because of rain.
Premier fast bowler Dale Steyn was ruled out for the rest of the tournament through injury and it was venerable 40-year-old leg–spinner Tahir who provided the spark against Afghanistan after Faf du Plessis had chosen to field.
Hazratullah Zazai and Noor Ali Zadran played some enterprising strokes to help their team to 69-2 when the lengthier of the two rain breaks arrived, but the resumption proved calamitous for Afghanistan in their first ODI against South Africa.
Hashmatullah Shahidi edged the fourth ball of the restart to slip, the first of four wickets to fall for one run in 10 balls.
Tahir, playing his 103rd ODI, bowled the 21st over and struck with his first delivery – a perfectly executed googly that bowled Noor Ali through the gate – and four balls later Asghar Afghan chipped back a simple return catch after being equally bamboozled.
It needed a cavalier approach from Rashid Khan, with three fours in four balls during his 35, to ensure Afghanistan reached three figures.
De Kock sets up South Africa chase
An extra run added to their target by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method was never likely to inconvenience the South Africa innings, played in bright evening sunshine, and when Afghanistan’s star leg-spinner Rashid came into the attack for the ninth over they were 25-0.
Unlike Tahir, his opening delivery was pulled to the mid-wicket boundary and after a watchful start, South Africa reached 50 in the 13th over.
De Kock played with impressive freedom on both sides of the wicket to reach 50 from 58 balls, his second half-century of the tournament, sharing his 11th ODI century partnership with Hashim Amla before being smartly caught at mid-wicket.
Burly seamer Andile Phehlukwayo, who had never batted higher than seven in an ODI, was brought in at three to improve the run-rate but it was not until the 29th over that victory was recorded with the only six of the match.
A much greater challenge awaits South Africa in their next match against New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
‘I’m happy for Hashim to get a not-out’ – what they said
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis: “Today was a good day for us. Our intensity was much better.
“He (Tahir) can get wickets at any stage. Even on wickets like this today, he still finds a way – and that separates the good from the great.
“You want Hashim to try and push on towards the end, but more important for him is finishing a game off and getting some runs under his belt. I’m happy for him to get a not-out and get some confidence.”
Man of the match Imran Tahir: “I really enjoyed that. It’s nice to have that first victory. We were up for it. As long as I take wickets I’ll keep on celebrating.”
Afghanistan captain Gulbadin Naib: “We didn’t expect that spell from Tahir. We did well against the seamers but the batsmen didn’t take responsibility in the middle.
“We need a good total on the board so we needed a partnership. We made a lot of mistakes.”
Former New Zealand captain Jeremy Coney on BBC Test Match Special: “South Africa have done the job. They might have done it more quickly with more confidence, but they wanted this victory so badly. There will be relief.”