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Proteas always intended to chase against Afghanistan

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Going into Friday’s clash with Afghanistan, South Africa were able to challenge themselves to be better at chasing, especially going into the knock-out phase of the tournament.

South Africa’s Rassie van der Dussen plays a shot during the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup ODI match against Afghanistan at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday. Picture: Sajjad HUSSAIN, AFP

SOUTH Africa had a successful week at the Cricket World Cup in India. From the beginning of the week, following the embarrassing defeat to India last week, the team objectives were clear.

Throughout the week, the team’s focus was on addressing their inability to chase down totals.

Going into Friday’s clash with Afghanistan, South Africa were able to challenge themselves to be better at chasing, especially going into the knock-out phase of the tournament.

Top-order batter Rassie van der Dussen finished unbeaten on 76 off 95 balls and displayed precisely what South Africa looked to develop when batting second.

After the Proteas lost the toss and were asked to bowl, Van der Dussen emphasised the team’s intentions to bowl first had they won the toss in Ahmedabad.

“We wanted to put ourselves in that situation so if we won the toss, we would have bowled anyway, because we wanted to put ourselves in that situation,” he said after South Africa’s five-wicket victory over Afghanistan.

“I think it was largely controlled. There were one or two nervy moments, but it’s always in the chases like that. You’ve just got to communicate well to the guys coming in. So, I think one thing we did well was to not lose wickets in clusters. Everyone that came in put up a bit of a partnership. By doing that, (Afghanistan) were never really in the game. Even though it might have looked so, when we needed about 50 of 50, with five wickets in hand, you’re going to get there nine times out of ten.”

The next objective is Thursday’s semi-final and there will be no let up as Australia will undoubtedly take the game to South Africa. The Proteas did beat Australia in the round-robin stage of the World Cup, but knock-out matches are a totally different ball-game.

“I think it will probably be different in the sense that a lot of their guys have been in those situations before and have a good reference of how it is, having won the World Cup and having played in the semi-final four years ago,” said Van der Dussen.

“So they, in terms of that’ll probably know what it’s about a bit more I suppose, But it’s on the day, it’s about what team rocks up, what team is switched on, what team executes their plans.”

Head-to-head, Australia have the upper-hand over South Africa in World Cup semi-finals, having beaten them twice in the past – in 1999 and 2007.

Despite the pressure of a World Cup semi-final and the possible repercussions of a loss, Van der Dussen said their journey as a team had been special and the team would focus on that regardless of the semi-final result on Thursday.

“(In 1999) I was 10 years old, so I don’t remember too much but, looking at that team, they obviously had a really good chance to win the World Cup, I think we have a good chance as well. (In) 2007, again I suppose on the day the team didn’t execute like they wanted to and that’s fine,” he said.

“The whole chat around our group was ‘you know what, on the 19th of November we’ll be where we need to be, if it’s lifting the trophy or not. It’s fine, whatever happens will happen’.

“At the end of the day, I think that the time we’ve had together, the last 8 to 12 weeks with the squad will go down as probably some of the best team environments and times I’ve had in my career. So, whether we win or not, we’ll definitely go away from here with fond memories.”

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