New Delhi. The World Cup 2023 has now reached the knockout round. The first semi-final of the tournament will be played today between India and New Zealand while the second semi-final will pit five-time champions Australia against South Africa on Thursday, November 16 (Australia vs South Africa). Eden Gardens, Kolkata will host the second semi-final. Although this match between two strong teams is likely to be a thriller, Pat Cummins’ Australian team is considered as the favorite to reach the final.
Although the South African team defeated Australia by a huge margin of 134 runs in the league match, the Kangaroo team took their performance to the highest level in the subsequent matches, taking this loss as an ‘alarming signal’. This team’s batting and bowling have come into form at the right time. Both teams have made it to the last four with 14 points with seven wins from 9 matches, but South Africa are second and Australia third on net run rate.
There are two more reasons to consider Australia favorites in the semi-finals. The first is that the two teams have met twice in the semi-finals of the World Cup and South Africa have never won. South Africa have lost in the semi-finals in 1999 and 2007. In the 1999 semi-final, South Africa, despite being on the brink of victory, tied the match and topped the Super Six table, giving Australia a place in the final. The two teams met once again in the semi-finals of the World Cup 2007 in which the Kangaroos won by 7 wickets.
Another reason is the tag of ‘chokers’ placed on the South African team. Importantly, this team has a habit of collapsing in knockout matches. Perhaps this is the reason why this team full of talented players has not reached the final of the World Cup even once. Another reason has made Australia the favorite for the final. This time the World Cup will be on India’s spin. A friendly wicket. And Australia are better than South Africa in dealing with such curve bowling.
These factors can be important in terms of victory
The team winning the toss shall bat first: In the last 11 ODI matches played at Eden Gardens only twice the batting team has managed to win from behind. In this context it would be more convenient to bat first after winning the toss. Due to this and with the team batting from behind under floodlights, it looked to be struggling.
South Africa is weak in chasing: So far in this tournament, South Africa have scored 350+ four times, while Australia have done so three times. Of course, Temba Bavuma’s side are better than Australia when it comes to scores of 350+, but the fact remains that South Africa are poor at chasing scores and tend to crumble under pressure. The team’s David Miller has also admitted that his team needs to improve their winning record as they chase the scores.
Both teams’ records in the World Cup
The two teams have faced each other seven times in the ODI World Cup so far. In this, Australia has won four times (including wins for Australia based on better record in tied matches) while South Africa has won three times. In total 109 matches have been played between the two teams with Australia winning 50 times. And South Africa have won 55 times. Three matches are tied while one match has no result. South Africa also won the recently played ODI series between the two teams.
First published: November 15, 2023, 13:02 IST