Home Sport Cricket The Proteas will not go through the motions against Afghanistan

The Proteas will not go through the motions against Afghanistan

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After the record defeat to hosts India in their last outing, Miller ensured there will be no lack of motivation for the Proteas to return to winning ways in a hurry.

South Africa’s David Miller plays a shot against theNew Zealand attack during the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup at the MCA International Stadium in Pune, India on November 1. Picture: Vipin Pawar, Shutterstock (14175661az)

David Miller has played a fair amount of cricket matches in the colossal Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium in Ahmedabad. None were more consequential than consecutive Indian Premier League finals with the Gujarat Titans.

The Proteas left-handed batter would love nothing more than to play the biggest game of his life there next Sunday, when the ICC World Cup final is set to be staged at the 135,000-seater stadium.

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But before Miller’s mind can drift towards dreaming the previously impossible dream, there’s the small matter of facing an Afghanistan side at the same venue on Friday (10.30am start, SA time) – and then, of course, next Thursday’s much-anticipated semi-final against old foes Australia.

It would be easy for South Africa to go through the motions against the Afghans with their semi-final place already secured, but after the record defeat to hosts India in their last outing, Miller ensured there will be no lack of motivation for the Proteas to return to winning ways in a hurry.

“It’s a place (Narendra Modi Stadium) that you kind of want to play cricket. It’s a great facility – nice wickets, good outfield, and if it’s a full, packed house tomorrow – I really hope it is – it’s always a good spectacle here at this ground,” Miller said on Thursday.

“And I’m really excited for what lies ahead, potentially being here in the final. It will be a great, great achievement.

“But for us, it’s just (about) continuing what we’ve really done in this World Cup, and just nailing down on areas that we want to improve on from the previous game. I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase what we can do and get some momentum into that semi.”

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Equally, with South Africa’s mast already having been lowered by the Netherlands at this World Cup, there will certainly be no complacency against an Afghanistan team that have taken down a couple of higher-ranked opponents in India to leave them still in contention for the last remaining semi-final spot.

“They’re certainly a team 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,” Miller said.

“It’s something that we’re very aware of at World Cups – that there’s no easy game in the game of cricket. They’re a really strong team, and hence they have a chance to make the semi-finals.

“So, it’s good to see. I mean, that’s the joys of the World Cup. You see different teams doing well … It’s great to see, good for cricket.”

The Afghanistan side certainly possesses a host of match winners, such as 21-year-old opening batters Ibrahim Zadran – who struck his team’s first World Cup century in their last match against Australia – and Rahmanullah Gurbaz.

Miller’s Gujarat Titans star teammate Rashid Khan will lead a cast of impressive spinners in the form of Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmed and Mohammed Nabi.

Miller, though, is acutely aware of the threat.

“It’s been good to watch Afghanistan going the way that they have with the spinners that they’ve got, the batters up front … they’ve done really well. Their opening stands have been really good, and then (they’ve had) contributions throughout the innings from the other batters,” he said.

“It’s normally a good wicket, but there probably will be a bit of spin, knowing Afghanistan with their spinners that they’ve got.

“So, just kind of being aware of that (is important) and obviously, as I mentioned, adapting on the day to whatever is thrown at us.”

Squads For Ahmedabad

South Africa: Temba Bavuma (captain), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.

Afghanistan: Hashmatullah Shahidi (captain), Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Riaz Hassan, Rahmat Shah, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Ikram Alikhil, Azmatullah Omarzai, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Noor Ahmad, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Abdul Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq.

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