They know what it takes to win the 50-over World Cup, having won five of them in 12 editions, but Australia skipper Pat Cummins said they are never “weighed down” by history and will stick to basics against South Africa in the semi-final here on Thursday.
The Proteas, on the other hand, are known as the ‘perennial chokers’ in the cricket fraternity.
“Yeah, I don’t think it counts for too much. You know, obviously you start from scratch every time you play,” Cummins said on the eve of their match.
“They’re a team we’ve played quite a lot and know quite well. But as you said, this week it’s probably going to be quite different to say the South African series that we just played against them a couple of months ago.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that have been in this situation before that have won one day World Cup, T20 World Cup, various other tournaments in big moments. So, I think that really helps,” he said.
Having started off with two losses, Australia are peaking at the right time, winning seven matches in a row to brace up for the knockout stage.
“Again, we feel lucky that we’ve been in these situations quite a bit, a lot of our players. So, you know what it takes, but also, you’re not really weighed down by history. You get more excited about the challenge and just get stuck into what needs to be done.
“We’ve obviously played a lot of cricket over the last month and it just feels like everyone knows their role and it’s starting to click,” he said.
Cummins said Glenn Maxwell, whose thunderous knock against Afghanistan acquired the status of an epic, is on the mend and is available for the semifinal.
Showing incredible will power, Maxwell had battled severe cramps in his body to conjure up a magical unbeaten double century to take Australia past the finish line against Afghanistan.
Maxwell needed time to recover and had missed Australia’s last match against Bangladesh on November 11 in Pune.
“Glenn Maxwell is all clear. He is all good. He was a little bit sore yesterday. We get scans a lot of the time just to make sure that if there is something, we know what we’re dealing with and fortunately it came back all okay. So he’s fine,” Cummins said.
Cummins said that Australia will announce their playing XI at the time of toss on Thursday but it is likely that they would prefer Marnus Labuschagne over Marcus Stoinis in the spin friendly conditions at Eden Gardens.
“We will announce our XI at the toss tomorrow,” said Cummins when asked if Australia would go into the match with an extra all-rounder or a batter.
It does look like it’s probably going to spin a bit more than some of the other wickets which is the same for both teams,” Cummins said.
Labuschagne over Stoinis?
With South Africa indicating to go ahead with two spinners, Australia may favour playing Labuschagne who was originally left out of the preliminary 18-man squad for this tournament, but surged back into contention with strong performances in the lead-in.
He has since played every game of the tournament, turning in a number of important innings and standing out as one of the World Cup’s best fielders.
Stoinis on the other hand has been in and out of the team due to fitness concerns.
His strike rate at this World Cup (112.98) has been down, but he provides a stronger finishing option than Labuschagne (strike rate of 77.08) and the Australians value the versatility of his bowling.
“With the all-rounders, someone like say Stoin at number seven, that’s giving you valuable overs, but then also is a really aggressive finisher to the innings,” said Cummins.
“You’re weighing that up against maybe a middle-order batter if you think the bowling might not come into it as much and maybe the runs are to be had through the middle overs rather than blasting at the end.
Cummins said he wants to savour the World Cup-winning moment in the ongoing showpiece, as he was not part of the playing XI in the final of the 2015 edition.
He had featured in just two league stage matches then.
Australia had defeated New Zealand by seven wickets in the 2015 World Cup final at the MCG with Mitchell Johnson and James Faulkner taking three wickets each.
“I’d still say that 2015 World Cup was my career highlight, and I wasn’t playing,” said Cummins.
“But it was just the most magic moment. MCG, packed house, the whole of Australia behind us, winning a World Cup, which is rare,” he signed off.
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