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SA guarded against unknown Afghans

May 04, 2010 14:18 IST

It will be David vs Goliath when title favourites South Africa take on spirited new entrants Afghanistan in their second and final Group C match for a Super Eight berth in the Twenty20 World Cup in Bridgetown, Barbados on Wednesday.

They lost the opener against India but Afghanistan have shown the spark to be in the big league even though it would be too big an ask for them to upstage South Africa.

The first Affiliate Member of the ICC to qualify for a senior ICC event, Afghanistan have earned much admiration already for the stunning rise to prominence.

Led by Nowroz Mangal, a fan of Indian batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, they came to the mega event after winning the qualifiers in the United Arab Emirates, beating the more experienced Ireland in the final.

Commentators are still trying to get used to the war-ravaged country's cricketers, who are trying hard to make an impression.

Their batsman Noor Ali found some recognition in the match against Indian after managing to pull off a half century in a lost cause.

Imposing all-rounder Mohammad Nabi has also impressed after his fine show in the run up to the World Cup. He was the leading wicket-taker in qualifiers with 13 scalps at an average of 10.53.

He also holds the distinction of being Afghanistan's first batsman to hit an ODI fifty with 58 in their first match against Scotland last year.

While Afghan cricketers need elaborate introduction, the South African boast of players who are established international stars.

South Africa will have to have a really bad day in office to lose on Wednesday. With in-form batsmen like Jacques Kallis, A B de Villiers and skipper Graeme Smith, the Proteas would look to get over the 14-run loss to India in their lung-opener.

Smith is, however, guarded in his assessment of the unknown rivals.

"Afghanistan are a potential banana skin because they are unknown but they have a lot of talented cricketers, they've overtaken all the others in the minnow division. It's going to be nerve-wracking playing them," Smith had said at the start of the tournament.

"... they have no fear and they have nothing to lose, which makes them dangerous," he added.

And perhaps the fear of the unknown is the only fear the South African would have to overcome when they face the Afghans.

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