Afghanistan have brought joy to this World Cup, says David Miller

Afghanistan have beaten defending champions England as well as former winners, Pakistan and Sri Lanka

By AFP

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South Africa's David Miller (left), Aiden Markram (second left) and Quinton de Kock (right) look on as Kagiso Rabada controls the ball during a practice session. — AFP
South Africa's David Miller (left), Aiden Markram (second left) and Quinton de Kock (right) look on as Kagiso Rabada controls the ball during a practice session. — AFP

Published: Thu 9 Nov 2023, 8:12 PM

South Africa's David Miller hailed Afghanistan as "one of the joys of the World Cup" on Thursday but admitted thoughts were already turning towards their semifinal clash with Australia.

South Africa have qualified for the last four with six wins and two losses in eight games while Afghanistan, their opponents in Ahmedabad on Friday, are virtually out of the semifinals.

"They've been really, really good to watch," said Miller of Afghanistan who have beaten defending champions England as well as former winners, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

They were in touching distance of another major scalp on Tuesday when they had five-time champions Australia on the ropes before Glenn Maxwell launched his spectacular one-man rescue mission

"They're a team that's certainly growing in confidence. They've shown that they can compete. I mean this World Cup they've done really, really well, beaten some big teams."

He added: "It's been good to watch the Afghanistan group going the way that they have with the spinners that they've got, the batters up front.

"They have a chance to make the semifinals. That's the joy of the World Cup. You see different teams doing well, people that don't necessarily rate a certain team exceeding in a certain phase of the World Cup."

Miller hailed Maxwell's undefeated 201-run masterclass, achieved despite cramps and back spasms which forced him to attempt only boundaries as he pulled his team back from the brink of 91-7 in Mumbai on Tuesday.

"Seeing a knock like that was really special," said Miller of Maxwell who he will face again in the semifinals next week.

"He's an X-Factor, a match winner. It was inspiring to see no foot movement there and still hitting sixes and fours. From a game where they were dead and buried."

Miller admitted players were excited at the prospect of a World Cup semifinal against Australia.

When they met in the group stage at Lucknow four weeks ago, Maxwell was out for three and South Africa romped to a 134-run victory.

"We played them before in the World Cup, so kind of a dress rehearsal there and we've played them quite a bit in the past," said Miller of the five-match home series on the eve of the World Cup that South Africa won 3-2.

"So, we know what to expect. They're always a competitive team. They've got some incredible players and match winners amongst their team."

Both of South Africa's defeats at the World Cup came while chasing but Miller does not think this is a major concern for them heading into the business end of the showpiece tournament.

The top half of their batting order had been in red-hot form before they came unstuck against India in their last match when they were skittled for 83.

They have looked more comfortable setting targets but Miller said they are also usually at ease chasing a total.

"I think we have chased a lot of games in the past, and I don't think it's something that is a huge issue at all," the batter said ahead of Friday's match against Afghanistan.

"The guys certainly have the skill and believe that we can chase anything. I think it's just comparing to what we have done batting first, which has been exceptional.

"We haven't been horrific chasing, it's just been one or two games where we slipped up, which is part of the game.

"We have spoken about and dissected that. It's just about making sure that we've got that platform and giving ourselves the best chance to chase down a total."

Friday's match:

Afghanistan vs South Africa

Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad

12:30 pm UAE Time

Teams:

South Africa (probable): 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 Temba Bavuma (capt), 3 Rassie van der Dussen, 4 Aiden Markram, 5 Heinrich Klaasen, 6 David Miller, 7 Marco Jansen, 8 Keshav Maharaj, 9 Kagiso Rabada, 10 Lungi Ngidi/Andile Phehlukwayo, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi/Gerald Coetzee

Afghanistan (probable): 1 Rahmanullah Gurbaz, 2 Ibrahim Zadran, 3 Rahmat Shah, 4 Hashmatullah Shahidi (capt), 5 Azmatullah Omarzai, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Ikram Alikhil (wk), 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Mujeeb Ur Rahman/Fazalhaq Farooqi, 10 Naveen-ul-Haq, 11 Noor Ahmad.

Head-to-head:

Matches 1

South Africa wins: 1

Afghanistan wins: 0


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