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Other SportsCricket World Cup 2023: Australia v South Africa - preview, expected line-ups...

Cricket World Cup 2023: Australia v South Africa – preview, expected line-ups and prediction

The State of Play

Five-time World Cup champions Australia appear to be hitting their straps at just the right time. Having started with defeats to India and Thursday’s opponents South Africa, Pat Cummins’ men have rebounded impressively with seven successive wins to coast into the semi-finals.
Their experienced line-up has the know-how to get them through difficult situations, typified by Glenn Maxwell’s incredible 201 not out against Afghanistan which saved them from the jaws of defeat. Opener David Warner is bang in form, averaging over 55 in the tournament, and spinner Adam Zampa is the leading wicket-taker with 22.

South Africa have offered more consistency than Australia, with the one major blip being a stunning defeat to the Netherlands, while they were also undone by India. Quinton De Kock remains their key batter having hit four centuries in the tournament and the Proteas will hope he will fire again in what could be his final ODI. South Africa will look to win the toss and bat first, a scenario in which they have an excellent record, and then allow their quicks to get stuck into Australia’s top order.

One other factor to add to the mix is the fact the forecast for Kolkata on Thursday is not great, so Friday’s reserve day could be utilised.

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Team News

Australia have a major decision to make in whether to omit Marnus Labuschagne or Marcus Stoinis to accommodate the returning Maxwell, who sat out their final group game against Bangladesh. Stoinis is favourite to get the chop having failed to excel in India so far. Maxwell will bolster a batting line-up which has got better as the tournament has gone on. Mitch Marsh’s 177 not out against Bangladesh marks him out as a man to watch.

South Africa have a conundrum of their own. Do they pick spinner Tabraiz Shamsi or the all-out pace and lower-order hitting ability of all-rounder Gerald Coetzee? It will depend on the conditions at Eden Gardens.
Captain Temba Bavuma has a hamstring strain but is likely to be fit to lead the side after taking part in an optional training session on Monday.

Expected Line-ups

Australia: Head, Warner, Marsh, Smith, Labuschagne, Maxwell, Inglis (wk), Cummins (c), Starc, Zampa, Hazlewood

South Africa: De Kock (wk), Bavuma (c), Van der Dussen, Markram, Klaasen, Miller, Coetzee, Jansen, Maharaj, Rabada, Ngidi

shutterstock 2377779831
Eden Gardens

What They Said

Australia paceman Mitchell Starc on Australia’s improved form after their slow start in India
“It’s a World Cup, it’s what we play for. We seem to be peaking at the right time, which Australia tend to do in tournament play.
“Whilst we didn’t start the way we wanted to, we’ve certainly had good contributions from individuals along the way, and we find ourselves in another World Cup semifinal.
“It’s a very calm group, this one, and fairly experienced with a couple of younger, less experienced guys gelling in really nicely.”

South Africa coach Rob Walter on playing in a World Cup semi-final
“The semi-final becomes what you allow it to become. I don’t ever want the guys to downplay a semi-final, because they have played good cricket to get there.
“I would much rather tell them to enjoy the fact that we are here, enjoy the fact that we have played good cricket to be here, and enjoy the experience of being in a semi-final, against a team that we know very well, are highly competitive and probably have just started playing their best cricket.”

Prediction

A very close call which could produce a thrilling finish. The toss will be key with both teams preferring not to chase. South Africa have won the last four ODIs between the sides but Australia, as Starc suggests, seem to be peaking at the right time. I’m taking the Aussies to edge it.

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Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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