New Delhi: Afghanistan put up a valiant fight against heavyweights South Africa, but fell short by 37 runs to lose their second successive match the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 campaign on Sunday.
The Super 10 Group 1 match at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai witnessed the Associate side giving a fight to the perpetual favourites.
For Faf du Plessis' side, the win has revived their campaign after losing the first match to England in a thriller on Friday at the same venue,
After losing the toss, they have seen the class of AB de Villiers, as the Proteas rode on to the 32-year-old's 64 off 29 balls.
The minnows started the improbable chase of 210-run target with gumption, with the opening pair of Mohammad Shahzad and Noor Ali Zadran posting 52 runs inside four overs. But they could managed only 171 runs with South African bowlers taking six wickets in the last five overs of the match.
The Proteas, who posted a record-high score of 229 for 4 that was overhauled by England in a thrilling fashion for the loss of eight wickets, became the first team in World T0 history to post a second 200-plus score in the same edition when they rattled up 209 for five wickets against the minnows.
South Africa then bowled out Afghanistan for 172 in 20 overs to emerge victorious after the minnows were given an electric start by opener Mohammad Shahzad with a 19-ball 44, which was studded with five sixes and three fours.
It was South Africa's first win in two games in the Super 10 Group 1 round robin league after the first game loss to England.
Lanky pacer Chris Morris led the South African bowling charge by grabbing 4 for 27 while leggie Imran Tahir also impressed with 2 for 24.
The defeat, the second suffered by Afghanistan after their six-wicket loss to Sri Lanka on March 17 at Kolkata, has virtually ended their hopes of advancing to the semi finals.
They have two games to play - against England (March 23 at Delhi) and West Indies (March 27 at Nagpur).
South Africa, with two points from as many games, travel to Nagpur to clash with the West Indies on March 25 before concluding their league engagements against Sri Lanka at the Kotla in Delhi on March 28, the final match of the Super 10 stage of the tournament.
Today the Proteas, who elected to bat, would have been pleased with the way De Villiers blazed his way to his eighth T20 half century in his inimitable style to help South Africa muscle their way to their second 200-plus score on the trot.
After a quick-fire 40s from opener Quinton de Kock (45 in 31 balls) and captain Faf du Plessis (41 in 27 balls), A B de Villiers smashed five sixes and four fours while making 64 in 29 balls and adding 76 in 35 balls with Jean Paul Duminy (29 not out) for the fourth wicket in 35 balls.
De Villiers, who missed out on scoring big in the high-scoring game won by England here and was reprieved twice, struck four huge sixes and a four in one over from leggie Samiullah Shenwari, in the process reaching his 50 in 24 balls, before getting out.
South Africa had raced to 66 in the first six power play overs before spin bowling arrested their progress considerably. De Kock, who notched up 52 against England, set the tone with five hits to the fence in the first two overs.
Amla, who made 58 against England, hit Shapoor Zadran for a four before spooning a drive straight to mid-off in the third over.
Skipper Faf du Plessis showed his aggressive intent and quickly got into his groove with a flurry of fours to take over the attacking reins from de Kock after the latter had hit two sixes off Dawlat Zadran in the fourth over.
Du Plessis was run out by a direct hit at stumps from Mohammed Nabi to terminate the 65-run stand between him and de Kock, who struck seven fours and a six over covers. By the end of the 10th over the Proteas had advanced to 92 for two.
De Kock, who had slowed down considerably, under-edged Hamza in trying to pull the bowler and was caught behind with the Proteas score reading 97 for three, having lost two set batsmen within the space of 11 balls.
Duminy, who struck a six and two fours, and de Villiers then joined forces to put on 76 runs after both were let off in one over by leg spinner Shenwari in which the spinner was smashed for 29 runs. De Villiers was out in the next over, caught at deep mid wicket off Nabi.
Afghanistan made a bold reply with Shahzad carting Kyle Abbott for three sixes and a four in the second over after lashing Kagiso Rabada for a six and a four in the first to help his team smash 33 in two overs.
The aggressive opener struck a four behind the keeper and a flicked six off Rabada in the third but it was too good to last and he lost his stumps in the first over from Chris Morris who also removed rival captain Asghar Stanikzai cheaply.
Opener Noor Ali Zadran (25 in 24 balls) and Gulbadin Naib (26 in 18 balls) departed before the end of the 15th over with Afghanistan on 140 for four, needing 70 more from 30 balls.
The quick loss of three wickets in the next three overs effectively ended their fight.
Abbott (2 for 36) and Rabada (2 for 37) were the other successful bowlers for the Proteas who had dropped their premier fast bowler Dale Steyn, who had leaked 35 runs in his first two overs in the lost game against England, from their second match and included David Wiese instead.
(With PTI inputs)