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Form South Africa takes on reigning champions Australia carrying the weight of history


Have you yet sensed the ghosts within the machine? emerges from the corners of Eden Gardens, the ideal location for a competition that hardly moves for historical artifacts. Australia and South Africa are playing in the World Cup semifinals. And you’re dead inside if the very idea of what’s ahead doesn’t make your spine tingle with excitement.

Discard all of your preconceived notions about luck and form, as well as the myth that the strongest team will always prevail on the day. Instead, embrace a situation where South Africa’s muscle memory will feel as though it is pulled backwards through time and space by invisible strings with every twitch (because, let’s face it, this is all about them). from 2003 to 2015, from 2007 to 2007. Between 1992 and 1999, etc. and back into the formless emptiness that was the source of all their World Cup suffering.

It’s absurdly unjust. It is premonition inscribed in history. At the inevitable moment when South Africa’s dream of World Cup triumph dies another nasty and undignified death, a thousand “I told you sos” will be chanting in chorus. But make no mistake, that’s the baggage that Temba Bavuma’s squad will be required to haul with them to the middle on Thursday. They do not have the luxury of ignoring the skeptics and doubters in this contest, out of all contests.

Australia, the most illustrious cricket champions, will be up against them, serving as the final hurdle that all competitors seem to have to clear in order to be crowned winners. Having won five titles and suffered just four knockout losses in 18 finals since the inaugural semifinal in 1975, Australia practically has a birthright when it comes to these events.

No team has won a World Cup since 1992 if they haven’t eliminated them first; in fact, Pakistan’s victory in the group stage that year turned out to be a de facto quarterfinal. They were defeated in the 1996 final by Sri Lanka, and then in 2011 and 2019 by India and England, respectively. If South Africa wins this match, they will have every right to think that their name is on the trophy, even with India’s dominant performance on the other side of the draw.

That is not to imply, by any means, that South Africa belongs in the category of foreigners. Uniquely among Australia’s opponents over the entire history of ODI cricket, they possess a positive win-loss record (55 to 50), which includes 15 triumphs in their last 18 meetings and a group-stage thumping in Lucknow, only last month.

They amassed four totals above 350, more than any other side, including a market-leading 428 for 5 against Sri Lanka in Delhi, which is also the highest score ever made at a World Cup. They won seven of their nine group games here, which is exactly the same as their opponents. Additionally, they will have a formula for batting domination that no team, not even India, has surpassed if they win the toss and choose to bat first.

They possess both confidence and form. But as their rivals will be only too pleased to point out, they also have history. Even South Africa’s fondest recollections of Eden Gardens seem to have been tainted by Australian competitiveness, dating back to their redeeming visit in November 1991, when Clive Rice released doves into the Calcutta sky to commemorate South Africa’s comeback from sporting isolation. Four years before that, nearly to the day, Allan Border had claimed the first of Australia’s five titles, and had been lifted up onto the shoulders of his teammates and paraded over the same field.

What they would give for their first… in South Africa Rather, in view of the stunning knockout that occurred in Paris just a month ago, their empty cabinet feels even more bare at this moment. With four World Cups in eight years since winning on the first try in 1995, South Africa’s rugby team has experienced none of the anxiety that has dogged their cricketers since their own return to the international scene. By maintaining composure through three straight one-point victories in this year’s quarterfinal, semifinal, and final, they demonstrated, rather helpfully, just what it takes to show bottle in crucial situations.

The fantasy for South Africa, like so many other parts of this unimaginably large event, is always one step away from turning into a nightmare. If all goes according to plan, Bavuma, their first black captain for cricket, is just two games away from following in the footsteps of his rugby counterpart Siya Kolisi and giving the Rainbow Nation its most happy picture op since Nelson Mandela hugged Francois Pienaar at Ellis Park.

However, Bavuma is suffering from a hamstring strain that, through no fault of his own, brings painful memories of South Africa’s 2015 semi-final subplot, in which an unfit Vernon Philander was pushed into the starting lineup ahead of the highly effective Kyle Abbott. Bavuma is already under scrutiny because of his poor run of form. And if the players’ thoughts weren’t troubled enough by the ghost of their past mistakes, it might rain on Thursday. I find it all a little too eerie.

It’s only appropriate to note at this point that there will actually be two teams vying to go to the Ahmedabad final on Sunday, and given Australia’s continued dominance in international competition, it may not be enough for South Africa to just defeat their inner demons.

Australia’s ascent to seven straight victories has been quite concerning after a faltering start that included two losses on the turn. As he approaches the final weeks of his one-day career, David Warner has fully emerged on stage, putting on a show that even rivals that of four-time centurion Quinton de Kock. Meanwhile, Australia now holds both the highest individual score and the fastest century in the tournament, thanks to top scores from Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell that surpass previous records set by de Kock and Aiden Markram.

They enter this match with a sense of entitlement that is undoubtedly worthy of a 100-run lead, not to mention the confidence that comes from winning their two previous semifinal matches (1999 and 2007), in which they easily defeated their defeated opponents and went on to win. As if they were unaware, South Africa must deliver the greatest game of their lives on Thursday. Those are the rules of this specific engagement, as harsh as they may sound. Furthermore, many of these players weren’t even born when they were written.

Form handbook

Australia WWWWW (the most recent match out of the last five completed matches)
South African WWLWW

Adam Zampa and Heinrich Klaasen in the spotlight

Heinrich Klaasen’s scorching century against England at the Wankhede was the talk of the tournament until it was surpassed by the most incredible ODI innings ever witnessed. Joe Root aptly described the atmosphere in Mumbai that day as “thick enough to “eat” following England’s humiliating defeat. Klaasen’s 109 off 67 balls was marked by raucous striking in the face of physical debilitation, much like the Maxwell masterpiece that exceeded it in the wow stakes.

But what mattered more than the runs he scored was the statement Klaasen’s performance made. He was the most talked-about batsman in ODI cricket going into the World Cup, especially following his crushing of Australia in Centurion in the weeks preceding the competition. Together with David Miller, he amassed a mouthwatering 173 runs in the last ten overs of the innings with his 174 off 83 balls that day. His performance in Mumbai and his subsequent 90 from 49 against Bangladesh served as early warning signs that South Africa would not back down from a build-steady-charge-hard approach in a major match. Even while his output has slightly decreased since then, the threat he offers has not.

With all of the incredible returns that Adam Zampa has received, it is easy to forget that the Australia legspinner had a really rough start to his career. In South Africa’s group-stage victory in Lucknow, he was hammered for 70 runs in ten overs after a wicket-less opening match against India. Rassie van der Dussen claimed the tournament’s only wicket in his 15th over. Since then, he has taken 21 more wickets in 61 overs over seven straight victories. Because of his exceptional control over line, length, and variation, any attacking strategy is risky. Still, South Africa had his number previously. It will be up to them to believe they can locate it again.

Team news: SA waits for Bavuma, Labuschagne over Stoinis

In Australia’s decisive win over Bangladesh in their last group match, neither Marcus Stoinis nor Marnus Labuschagne reached the middle, but only one of them will play in Kolkata due to the unavoidable return of the game-changing Maxwell. Labuschagne’s Test tempo should be trusted to do its job, providing weight to the middle order alongside Steve Smith, allowing the lads surrounding them to continue blazing as they see fit. This is because of their recent explosive success batting.

Australia (probably): Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, and three others Josh Inglis, age six, Glenn Maxwell, seven 8 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Adam Zampa, 10 Mitchell Starc, and 9 Pat Cummins (captain).

Bavuma, who is sweating from a hamstring strain that has subtly overshadowed his team’s whole build-up, will be the subject of a decision before the toss. The optics of the captain’s probable absence from a World Cup semi-final transcend the specifics of sports concerns; Reeza Hendricks is a very strong backup, of all, and made 85 against England when Bavuma was once again unavailable. Similar worries about Lungi Ngidi, who twice failed to finish his overs against India and Afghanistan due to an ankle injury, do not assist the team’s equilibrium. Despite being deemed healthy, he may yet be replaced by Gerald Coetzee. Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj, whose rise to the top of the ICC rankings is a pre-match vote of confidence, appear to be signed on for what is anticipated to be a pivotal pitch. Andile Phehlukwayo is another player in the running, maybe to replace Marco Jansen, whose destructive influence on the field has been somewhat mitigated by two particularly poor outings against Sri Lanka and India, where he was dismissed twice for more than ninety runs.

Quinton de Kock (wk), Temba Bavuma (capt)/Reeza Hendricks, South Africa (probably) 3 Van der Dussen Rassie Aiden Markram, four 5 Karl Ludwig Klaasen David Miller, six 7, Andile Phehlukwayo/Marco Jansen, 8 Maharaj Keshav, 10 Lungi Ngidi/Gerald Coetzee, 11 Tabraiz Shamsi, and 9 Kagiso Rabada

Pitch and circumstances

In the event that the circumstances of England’s victory over Pakistan in the group stages are any indication, another black-soil surface at Eden Gardens provides turn for the spinners and slow but genuine bounce for the quicks. Depending on whatever program you use for your radar, rain may enter the picture in this case, making the weather the X-factor. South Africa should be spared some of the permutation-based miseries that have marred their World Cup past since there is, at the very least, a reserve day. “Tomorrow, we’ll show up expecting to play a 50-over match,” skipper of Australia Pat Cummins stated. “We can make the necessary adjustments if that changes on us. It’s not ideal to have weather like that for two days because it feels like it hasn’t actually rained in this area in a few months.”

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