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South Africa or Afghanistan are set to make history with their first-ever T20 World Cup final appearance

NEW DELHI: It will be a chance to make history for both teams as the first ever final in a Cricket World Cup in both white-ball formats is up for grabs for South Africa and rising Asian side Afghanistan in the first semi-final of the ICC T20 World Cup 2024 in Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday. Afghanistan’s progress to the World Cup semi-finals has been a remarkable and healthy story for a team that has been on the rise in this format for some time, with New Zealand and multiple world conquerors Australia the highest-ranked teams. the Afghan storm.

Standing in their way is undefeated South Africa, with the country hoping to make it an eighth time lucky to reach a Men’s World Cup semi-final in all formats after playing all seven semi-finals they have played so far lost, according to ICC. With a powerful batting line-up that possesses attacking weapons all the way up to number seven and a bowling attack that has both pace and cunning, South Africa will be confident that 2024 will finally be their year. The Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Tarouba is a 15,000 capacity stadium that hosts the fifth and final match of the tournament. All four previous matches took place in Group C during the first group stage, where runs proved fairly difficult to come by. West Indies’ 149/9 against New Zealand was the highest total at the venue in the four matches. South Africa have a perfect record at the tournament, but have come close on a number of occasions in their seven matches. The Netherlands, Bangladesh and Nepal could and perhaps should have defeated the Proteas during the group stage. before tournament co-hosts USA gave them a bit of a scare at the start of the Super Eights. But Proteas, replacing the infamous “choking”, produced “clutch” performances to win narrow and crucial moments in these matches.

Fascinating matches against England and West Indies were also exciting for a long time until South Africa claimed victory in the last over in both matches. Afghanistan’s brilliant win over Australia was key to their progression to the semi-finals, but they have played impressively throughout the tournament. They were placed in the toughest of the first groups and advanced at the expense of a consistently performing, frequent semi-finalist in New Zealand. And after a loss to India, they surprised Australia and then defeated Bangladesh by eight runs in a thriller to create history and secure their first semi-final spot. For South Africa, the big decision will be whether they stick with a second front-line spinner in Tabraiz Shamsi, or bring back an extra pace option in Ottneil Baartman, who has played in five matches at this tournament so far. Afghanistan experimented with adding Hazratullah Zazai as an additional top-order player against India to try and add some solidity to the face of such a quality bowling attack. They might be tempted to do the same again, but possibly with the incoming batsman going first this time, settling the partnership between Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmanullah Gurbaz.

The teams

South Africa: Aiden Markram (c), Ottniel Baartman, Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, David Miller, Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada, Ryan Rickelton, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs

Afghanistan: Rashid Khan (c), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Ishaq, Mohammad Nabi, Gulbadin Naib, Karim Janat, Nangyal Kharoti, Hazratullah Zazai, Noor Ahmad, Naveen-ul-Haq, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Fareed Ahmad Malik.