Mumbai: Advancing into the Super 10 stage for the first time in three attempts, minnows Afghanistan will face a formidable challenge when they clash with South Africa in the ICC World Twenty 20 Championship at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.
Afghanistan suffered a narrow defeat against defending champions Sri Lanka in their opening Group 1 game at Kolkata's Eden Gardens and they will have to get across South Africa to keep themselves afloat.
The Proteas, on the other hand, suffered a stunning two-wicket loss against England last night despite scoring a record-high score of 229 for 4 and Faf du Plessis' men would come hard at the Afghans, eager to notch up their first win in the tournament to stay in contention for the last four berth.
The Afghans need to stand up to this assault, with both bat and ball from South Africa whose bowlers - barring Imran Tahir - were taken to the cleaners by the Joe Root-inspired England.
Can a bunch of amateur cricketers defeat a top outfit like South Africa, who will be coming at them at full tilt, and remain in contention for a semi-final spot, is the big question.
Jean-Paul Duminy, who played an important all-round part for South Africa by striking a brisk 28-ball 54 and then snapping 1 for 31, said that his team needs to put the defeat behind and focus on the match against Afghanistan.
"Extras (26) let us down, we bowled too many wides (20) and so forth; that's something we have to look at. There were positives, especially from batting point of view, but there's need for improvement from bowling point of view," he said.
"We made errors and have to rectify them. We are under the pump. We have to pretty much win every game from now. We need to do something differently. From Sunday we have to make sure we execute plans well. By no means we're out of the tournament. There's lot more pressure but we have done it before.
"We have to move on to the next game. It's a quick turnaround for us as the Afghanistan game is coming up on Sunday. We need to make sure we are prepared for it," said Duminy.
The pace attack of the Proteas, which leaked runs aplenty to allow Root and company stage a magnificent run chase, is unlikely to be as accommodative to the Afghans led by Asghar Stanikzai.
Stanikzai was the lone top-order batsman to come out with his reputation enhanced with a knock of 62 against Sri Lanka and he not only needs to fire big again, but would require good support from the likes of opener Mohammad Shahzad and middle-order batsman Mohammed Nabi.
The Afghan bowling attack also lacks in experience to stand up to the assault of the likes of Quinton de Kock, Hashim Amla, A B de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, David Miller and Jean Paul Duminy.
The Afghans have a decent bowling attack, including a few spin bowlers, but they will be threatened by the firepower of the Proteas and need to brace up for it.
ICC World Twenty20: PHOTOS
Off-spinner Nabi and leggie Rashid Khan have been the most successful in the tournament with seven wickets in the bank so far, but they will face a stiffer task against the top-class Proteas' batting line-up.
Afghanistan qualified for their maiden Super 10 stage in their third attempt after finishing unbeaten in Group B in Nagpur by defeating Scotland by 14 runs, Hong Kong by six wickets and Zimbabwe by 59 runs.
They made their World T20 debut in the West Indies in 2010 and then played in the 2014 tournament in Bangladesh, but on these occasions got eliminated after the first round.
It's a battle between the world's No.2 ranked team and No. 9 and a win by Afghanistan would be the biggest upset of the sixth World T20 thus far.
In their only head-to-head clash so far, South Africa had defeated Afghanistan by 59 runs in a low-scoring game at the Kensington Oval, Barbados, in 2010.
The only non-Test playing team, in the Super 10 stage of the current tournament, was rolled over by the Proteas' pace attack for 80, while chasing a modest target of 140.
Rival squads (from):
South Africa: Faf du Plessis (capt), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock (wk), AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Chris Morris, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, David Wiese.
Afghanistan: Asghar Stanikzai (capt), Mohammad Shahzad (wk), Noor Ali Zadran, Usman Ghani, Mohammad Nabi, Karim Sadiq, Shafiqullah Shafiq, Rashid Khan, Ameer Hamza, Dawlat Zadran, Shapoor Zadran, Gulbadin Naib, Samiullah Shenwari, Najibullah Zadran, Hamid Hassan.