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South Africa battles Australia in WC semis today

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South Africa will take on the five-time World Cup champions Australia today (16) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata from 2 pm onwards.

The Proteas led by Temba Bavuma have been one of the strongest contenders after the home team to lift the title, claiming seven wins in this tournament, with the only losses against India and, surprisingly, the Netherlands—a major upset.

The team, which not many pundits regarded as among the top four, has caught the attention of many. SA possesses a strong batting lineup, evident in their highest score of 428 in the World Cup against Sri Lanka and 399 against England.

Batsmen like Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram (who led for a few matches due to Bavuma’s absence), Heinrich Klaasen and dashing opener Quinton de Kock have been exceptional in the ongoing campaign. De Kock is an outstanding batter already having four centuries at the World Cup. The wicketkeeper batter, who is competing in his farewell ODI event, has been on top of his game, scoring 591 runs in the league stage. Furthermore, skipper Temba Bavuma’s inclusion is also uncertain as he suffered a hamstring injury against Afghanistan. Talking about bowlers, the Proteas have succeeded in replacing the injured Anrich Nortje, as Gerald Coetzee, Marco Jansen, and experienced Kagiso Rabada stepped up amazingly well. Coetzee has secured 18 wickets in the tournament’s league stage, while Jansen has bagged 17 wickets with Rabada leading the pacemen to cause early damage. Two spinners Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi could provide a challenging spin against Kangaroos. The South African bowling unit stands is stronger, especially when compared to the Aussie bowlers.

On the other hand, the mighty Aussies got off to a sluggish start in the World Cup. The side witnessed back-to-back defeats to India and the Proteas towards the beginning of the campaign, which harmed their standing. However, the five-time WC winners quickly recovered as they defeated Sri Lanka, Pakistan, the Netherlands, and New Zealand consecutively to regain form. Openers David Warner and (Mitchell Marsh, who scored his career-best 173 in the last Netherlands game at Pune) are in top form. The experienced all-rounder Glenn Maxwell poses a threat to any opponent, notably with his memorable unbeaten 201 against Afghanistan, a pivotal performance that sealed their victory. Maxwell’s innings was incredible, as he battled through a leg injury (cramp) during his heroic innings. He formed a crucial partnership with Pat Cummins who played a good supporting role and remained unbeaten on 12.

Opener Travis Head has strengthened the side with a century. Michell Marsh’s 173 against Bangladesh along with consistent the form of Warne and Marsh make it a huge challenge for the Proteas.

Despite, paceman Mitchell Starc not being among the wickets, he still possesses firepower at the start of the innings. Moreover, Adam Zampa’s 22-wicket total in the league stage has the five-time winners pegged as favourites.

Australia and South Africa have met in 109 ODIs. Out of these, Australia have won 50, while South Africa has triumphed on 55 occasions. One match ended without any result, and three matches ended in a tie.

Both nations have taken on each other in seven matches in ODI World Cup events in which both teams claimed victory in three matches each, while one match concluded in a tie.

Probable Playing X1

Australia: David Warner, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins (capt), Josh Hazlewood, Adam Zampa.

South Africa: Quinton de Kock (wk), Temba Bavuma (capt ), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi.

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