South Africa survived an initial scare before bowling Afghanistan out for 172 to seal a 37-run victory in Mumbai on Sunday.
There were some nervous moments, especially during the first 10 overs of Afghanistan’s chase, where it looked like they might take this to a close finish, but it wasn’t to be as they ran out of big hitters.
To their credit South Africa never panicked despite the scare at the start and most of the subsequent wickets were celebrated in subdued fashion.
Chris Morris, under huge pressure coming into this game, was the pick of the bowlers with an outstanding performance which will do his confidence a world of good going forward. His first two overs went for just nine runs and contained 10 dot balls, while he also took the key wicket of Mohammad Shahzad (44 off 19). He finished with career-best figures of 4-27.
Afghanistan replicated England in coming out and taking every delivery on from the outset. Kyle Abbott went for 22 runs in his first over as Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran (25) raced to 52 inside four overs, but Abbott struck early in his spell to get rid of the former for a crucial breakthrough.
Despite losing the big hitter, Afghanistan powered on and reached 101 in 9.4 overs to plant some doubt in the minds of the Proteas, who probably had some flashbacks of the assault they endured at the hands of England on Friday.
The game started to swing South Africa’s way after Abbott had Gulbadin Naib caught behind for 26 off 18. Mohammad Nabi stuck around for a while but batted too slowly, his 11 runs coming off 14 balls before AB de Villiers caught him on the boundary attempting a big shot.
Samiullah Shenwari tried to revive the chase with a quickfire 25 from 14 balls but as wickets continued to fall regularly the target of 210 became too big an ask as they were eventually bowled out for 172.
South Africa lost JP Duminy to a hamstring strain which he picked up chasing a boundary ball which kept him off the field for the rest of the innings.
A late onslaught from De Villiers ensured South Africa reached 209-5 batting first.
Faf du Plessis won the toss and decided to bat first as Quinton de Kock (45 off 31) got his team off to fast start again.
Du Plessis came in at No 3 but scored at a faster rate than was the case against England the other night. Together they got South Africa to 66 in the powerplay, 60 of those runs coming in boundaries.
Their partnership was worth 65 when Du Plessis got himself run-out for 41 from 27 before De Kock nicked one behind.
That brought De Villiers and Duminy (29 from 20) to the crease and their 76-run partnership changed the shape of the innings and ensured they surpassed the 200-mark for the second game in a row. The partnership was fuelled by a vicious onslaught by De Villiers, who took a while to settle but once he did he wreaked havoc.
De Villiers, who was dropped on 26, smashed 64 from 29 balls, including taking 29 runs from the 17th over with 6 4 6 6 6 1. The last eight deliveries De Villiers faced went for 35 runs and it took the Proteas from 138-3 with four overs to go to 167-3 and was the main reason they managed to get past 200.
Duminy and David Miller (19 from 8) also did some damage at the death, in what was the sixth highest total in World T20 history.