Australia v South Africa: Holders eager to maintain momentum

By Sports Desk July 05, 2019

Australia will attempt to maintain their momentum heading into the Cricket World Cup semi-finals and seal top spot in the group stage by beating South Africa at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The holders were the first team to qualify for the last four and will be guaranteed to face New Zealand in Manchester next Tuesday if they win the final group match at the same venue.

Aaron Finch's side are a point ahead of India, who face Sri Lanka earlier in the day and will take on hosts England at Edgbaston next Thursday as it stands.

Peter Handscomb has been called up to the Australia squad after Shaun Marsh was ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to a fractured forearm, sustained when he was struck by a short ball from Pat Cummins in the nets.

Glenn Maxwell was also hit on the forearm by Mitchell Starc, but the all-rounder did not do any serious damage and is in contention to face the Proteas.

South Africa will be looking to bow out with back-to-back victories after seeing off Sri Lanka, with Imran Tahir and JP Duminy set to play their last ODIs.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

Two of world cricket's heavyweights have had strikingly contrasting tournaments, with Australia losing just the one match against India and winning seven.

South Africa have suffered a nightmare tournament, losing Dale Steyn to a shoulder injury before he had played any part and winning just twice - against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Australia head coach Justin Langer: "It's about maintaining the momentum of winning. That's really important for us. For this game, some people said it was a dead rubber. There's nothing dead about it."

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis: "It's a great competition between two fierce nations. Yes, they are looking pretty where they are sitting in terms of the World Cup, but we are still going to make sure we give it everything."

 

OPTA FACTS

- South Africa have won seven of their last eight ODIs against Australia, four of those victories coming when chasing a target.

- This will be the 100th ODI between the two nations. Australia have won 48 of those and South Africa 47.

- David Warner and Aaron Finch have both recorded five scores of 50 plus in the tournament. No Australian player has ever recorded six scores of 50+ at a World Cup.

- Mitchell Starc needs four wickets to become the fifth player to reach 50 World Cup scalps. His bowling average of 13 is the best of anyone to take 20+ wickets in the history of the competition.

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    Steve Smith produced a stunning one-handed catch to remove Kane Williamson on the second day of Australia's first Test against New Zealand, though Mitchell Starc always expected his brilliant team-mate to take the chance.

    Starc finished with 4-31 from 11 overs at stumps as the Black Caps were reduced to 109-5 in reply to Australia's first-innings total of 416.

    While Ross Taylor will resume on 66 not out on Saturday, Australia have already got the key wicket of Williamson, who fell for 34 when Starc and Smith combined in spectacular fashion.

    Former Australia captain Smith flung out his right hand to take a remarkable diving grab at second slip, not that the bowler of the delivery shared the crowd's amazement.

    "Unfortunately for him, you sort of expect that from Steve," Starc explained to reporters.

    "He's done that a few times. It was fantastic to create that buzz in the crowd and certainly out on the ground for us.

    "The big wicket of Kane - being the captain as well - to hang onto him was a big moment in tonight's session.

    "It was a fantastic catch, and it's always nice to see the boys hang on."

    Starc added: "It happens pretty quick. It was a special grab.

    "He's such a good player, whether it be with bat or in the field, you almost, unfortunately for him, expect that he's going to hold onto those nine times out of 10."

    It was not all plain sailing for the hosts, who lost Josh Hazlewood to a suspected hamstring injury after he had bowled just eight balls - one of which clattered into opener Jeet Raval's stumps.

    The extent of Hazlewood's problem is due to be confirmed on Saturday, with Starc already facing up to the possibility of Australia being one bowler down for at least the remainder of this Test.

    "It's never nice seeing anyone go down, especially one of your best mates," Starc added.

    "I'm not sure how those scans have come back, hopefully there's some positivity out of that. I guess it makes it tough now with a bowler down. It was for the Kiwis with [Lockie] Ferguson going down.

    "The plus side is we've got them five down tonight and hopefully for Josh it's not too bad and, if it is going to keep him out for the rest of the week, it's not too big a break to get that hammy right."

    Starc shone with the pink ball in the day-night Test, though admitted he still prefers all-day matches.

    Asked whether he wanted all Tests to be day-night encounters given his performance, Starc replied: "Nope. Don't overdo it, I'd say.

    "It's great for cricket but I'm still a traditionalist at heart. Don't take too many away from the red-ball game."

  • England rest Stokes, Archer and Buttler for Proteas ODIs England rest Stokes, Archer and Buttler for Proteas ODIs

    Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler are among the England players to be rested for the ODI series against South Africa, but they will return for the Twenty20s.

    All-rounder Stokes, paceman Archer, wicketkeeper-batsman Buttler and quick Mark Wood have not been included in a 16-man squad for three ODIs in February.

    Seamer Pat Brown, batsman Tom Banton, spinner Matt Parkinson and fast bowler Saqib Mahmood are included for the first time in the 50-over format.

    Joe Root is among eight players from England's triumphant Cricket World Cup squad to be selected, but the Test captain will not feature in the T20 series - which comes after the ODIs.

    Moeen Ali and Jason Roy were included in both squads after missing the tour of New Zealand. 

    There is no place for Banton, Sam Billings, Lewis Gregory, Mahmood and James Vince in a party of 16 for the contests in the shortest format.

    England national selector Ed Smith said: "These two squads were selected with an eye on the T20 World Cup in Australia in 2020.

    "In the T20s, a number of players who were rested for the successful 3-2 victory in New Zealand return to the squad: Jos Buttler, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Jason Roy.

    "We want to expand the pool of players who can perform successfully for England, while also helping the team to peak for major tournaments."

     

    England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Pat Brown, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Chris Woakes.

    England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (captain) Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Pat Brown, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood. 

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