Afghanistan chooses to bat first in bid for improbable win against South Africa at Cricket World Cup

In a daring move to secure an unlikely massive victory, Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi won the toss and chose to bat first against South Africa in their Cricket World Cup clash on Friday, aiming to secure a spot in the semifinals.

While South Africa is already assured of a semifinal berth against five-time champion Australia, Afghanistan, on eight points, is still mathematically in contention for fourth place. The team trails New Zealand, currently on 10 points, with net run-rate becoming a crucial factor.

The net run-rate difference is a significant concern for Afghanistan after New Zealand elevated its run-rate to plus 0.743 by defeating Sri Lanka on Thursday.

Afghanistan is coming off an emotionally charged loss to Australia, where it had control until Glenn Maxwell’s extraordinary, unbeaten double century.

In addition to needing a win, Afghanistan faces the colossal task of beating South Africa by 439 runs to surpass New Zealand’s net run-rate.

The fourth-place team from the group will play hosts India in the semifinals. Pakistan, also on eight points, is still in contention and needs an improbable win against England on Saturday to surpass New Zealand.

Afghanistan fielded an unchanged side from its previous game against Australia.

South Africa made two changes from the lineup that lost to unbeaten India, with all-rounder Marco Jansen rested and Andile Phehlukwayo taking his place. Pace bowler Gerald Coetzee replaced wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi.

The pitch at the Narendra Modi Stadium is expected to favor the batters, with spin coming into play as the game progresses.