Australia will take on South Africa in the second semifinal of the Cricket World Cup at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday, Nov. 16. Australia beat the Proteas in the semifinals in the 1999 and 2007 editions of the World Cup, but the latter registered a win over the former earlier in this year’s tournament.
Hence, it promises to be an absorbing clash between the two this time around. However, Australia’s track record in the ICC tournaments _they have won the World Cup five times gives them the edge.
Spinners of both Australia and South Africa should have a say:
The Eden Gardens pitch will be a slow one in all probability and should also aid the spinners. Hence, South Africa might drop one of their pacers and go with Keshav Maharaj and Tabrez Shamsi as their two spinners.
Shamsi, being a wrist spinner, will look to give the ball some flight and take wickets with his ability to generate turn. Aiden Markram should also turn his arm over for a few overs.
The big ground in Kolkata should also encourage the spinners to dare the batters to take the risk of clearing the boundaries by going for big hits. Maharaj’s ability to take the pace off the ball and bowl with a loop from round the wicket should also worry the Australian batters.
Winning the toss will be the key:
Australia will also look to get overs from the likes of Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head, their part-time spinners. Adam Zampa has been in great form and has picked up 22 wickets already in the tournament. Pat Cummins will put a lot of faith in him to make the South African batters struggle.
South Africa’s bad record while chasing a target will mean that Australia will almost certainly choose to bat should they win the toss. Even putting a decent total on board will give the Aussies a belief that they can bowl the Proteas out within that.
The Aussie top order has usually given the team a blistering start with both David Warner and Mitchell Marsh being in top form. However, the middle order, aside from the explosive Maxwell, has not fired as well as they would have liked it to.
The likes of Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Stoinis would like to get their act together in the semifinal. Steve Smith scored an unbeaten half-century in their last match against Bangladesh, which should give him some confidence.
However, should the Proteas win the toss and bat first, they will look to their aggressive stroke players like Quinton de Kock, Henrik Klaasen and David Miller to post a big total.