South Africa captain Faf du Plessis on Friday said there is no point in looking back at their disappointing World Cup campaign thus far as they remain determined to win their remaining five games to stay alive in the competition. South Africa got their first point of the World Cup courtesy a washout against the West Indies. The no result came after three straight losses against England, Bangladesh and India.
"We have to make sure we put all our energy and focus into what's coming up next. If we carry the ghosts of the last week with us, it's going to be tough to get out of the hole," du Plessis on the eve of the game against Afghanistan. "We can't be looking back. If we are looking back, we are almost going to float through this tournament and then we might win one or two or three games and we won't achieve what we want. We have been having conversations an making sure we are strong and we know what we need to do."
The most pressing task for South Africa is to start winning so they begin to catch up with teams higher up on the points table. Du Plessis knows there is a long way to go but believes the current situation could bring out the best of his team. "We have real purpose in the next five games. Everyone has written the team off. Our backs are against the wall as a team. "Maybe that lets the guys play the way they can play the way we want to play. We know we haven't fully unlocked the potential we have in the side."
For that to happen, South Africa want their batsmen, in particular, to put in a strong performance against Afghanistan at the Cardiff Wales Stadium. It was at this venue that South Africa last scored substantially, albeit only in a warm-up match. They posted 338/7 against Sri Lanka, an opposition they are familiar with. Now, they are looking to do similar against Afghanistan, who they have never played in an ODI. "You can't call teams minnows anymore. You can't call them weaker sides. They have the ability and the players to change the game. Rashid Khan was the standout for them. He has proven in T20 cricket that he is probably the best legspinner in the world.
"In fifty-over cricket, you have a bit of time, so you don't have to attack him as much. We will share knowledge from the IPL in the dressing room. We know that where Afghanistan come into the game is when Rashid Khan gets on a roll and takes wickets in quick succession." South Africa have a fully fit batting line-up to choose from and will likely opt for two of Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller or JP Duminy but have an injury concern in the bowling department.
Seamer Lungi Ngidi is still recovering from a hamstring strain and a late call will be taken on his availability, with South Africa's likely to err on the side of the caution given how many matches they have left. "We need to make sure that if he is not 100 per cent or even 90 per cent, we ask is it worth the risk?" Du Plessis said. "The right call to make is that if he is not ready, he will play the next match."
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