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ICC World Cup 2023: Australia and South Africa gear up for clash of titans, Maxwell cleared for a ‘Maxi show’ at Eden Gardens

Updated on: 16 November,2023 08:51 AM IST  |  Kolkata
Arup Chatterjee |

As Pat Cummins & Co look for their tournament’s eight consecutive win in semi-final against South Africa today, Aussies will hope for Glenn Maxwell to fire like he did against Afghanistan

ICC World Cup 2023: Australia and South Africa gear up for clash of titans, Maxwell cleared for a ‘Maxi show’ at Eden Gardens

Australia’s Mitchell Marsh (left) and Glenn Maxwell during a practice session ahead of their World Cup semi-final against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Tuesday. Pic/PTI

South Africa crushed Australia in their league match, so they are favourites to beat Pat Cummins & Co. in the semi-finals here on Thursday. Right? Well, not quite.

CWC 2023 has come a long way since that 134-run victory more than a month ago, and the roller-coaster ride of a round-robin has seen all but India in the trough. In contrast to Australia’s early losses, the Proteas had begun their campaign in style but, like a bolt from the blue, they lost to the Netherlands just five days after beating the Aussies. A lot of water has flown down the Hooghly since, and both teams arrive at the Eden Gardens riding the crest.

The Aussies look for their eighth consecutive victory for a place in Sunday’s final and South Africa, but for that huge defeat to India at Eden, have had impressive victories, including a big one against New Zealand. If all these suggest a battle between equals, it’s five-time champions Australia who have the ‘been there, done that’ mental edge, what with the Proteas never getting past the semi-finals.

Also Read: ICC World Cup 2023 | SA vs AUS: Here's all you need to know

Daunting fast bowlers

Both teams flaunt daunting fast bowlers, but they face a test. If another slow turner is presented, the likes of Kagiso Rabada, Marco Jansen, Gerald Coetzen, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazelwood must adjust and summon well disguised slower ones and other tricks. If it comes down to the slower bowlers, Aussie leg-spinner Adam Zampa, leading wicket-taker, looks a good bet with Glenn Maxwell and Marnus Labuschagne providing the variety. The Proteas have been well served by left-arm orthodox spinner Keshav Maharaj, and may want to add ‘chinaman’ Tabraiz Shamsi to the mix.

Last week, Australia were on the verge of becoming another munch for the minnows before Maxwell, playing through pain, hammered an unbeaten 201 off 128 deliveries to script one of the greatest ODI innings. “As a team you grow an extra leg because you feel like you can win a match from anywhere, and having someone like Maxi in your team is a complete luxury,” gushed Pat Cummins. “He’s a superstar, a freak,” added the skipper, not forgetting to mention Mitch Marsh’s unbeaten 132-ball 177 against Bangladesh. 

Travis Head is back

With Travis Head back to partner in-form David Warner and Steve Smith finally finding form, the top-order has a reassuring feel despite the stutter against the Afghans. The South African batting too wears an intimidating look. With 591 under his belt, opener Quinton de Kock is among the leading run-getters and would want to end his last World Cup on a high. Bavuma & Co will be hoping the likes of Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram and Heinrich Klaasen too come to the party to get past their World Cup nemesis.

Maxwell available for semi-final v SA

Australia skipper Pat Cummins on Wednesday said Glenn Maxwell is available for the World Cup semifinal against South Africa as the all-rounder “is all clear” for Thursday’s knock-out game.

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