Australia to draw on big-game experience in South Africa semi-final

Australia have grown accustomed to reaching the business end of cricket showpiece events and that experience will stand them in good stead for their Cricket World Cup semi-final against South Africa, skipper Pat Cummins has said.

The five-times champions shook off a sluggish start in India by stringing together seven wins in a row to make the last four, demonstrating yet again their ability to rise to the occasion when the pressure is on.

Four of their 50-overs titles have come in the last six editions of the tournament, while they also won the Twenty20 version in the United Arab Emirates in 2021.

By contrast, South Africa have never progressed beyond the semi-finals of the 50-overs World Cup, stymied by a combination of bad luck and nerves.

“I think what helps us is we’ve got a lot of guys that have been in this situation before, that have won the one-day World Cup, T20 World Cup, various other tournaments in big moments,” Cummins said ahead of Thursday’s match at Eden Gardens.

“We feel lucky that we’ve been in these situations quite a bit, a lot of our players.

“Hard to speak on their behalf but I do know each World Cup it does seem to be the story that South Africa haven’t quite achieved what they set out to do.”

Australia are set to welcome back Glenn Maxwell for their semi-final against South Africa

(Getty Images)

After defeats by hosts India and South Africa to start the tournament, Cummins was pleased with how his team have peaked at the right time.

“I think we’ve come a long way since the start of the tournament,” the pace bowler said. “We got better as a team since then.

“We are a bit more aggressive with our batting, we are taking the game on a bit more. With the bowling, I think we’ve just got better and better in all phases.

“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.”

Australia will welcome back fit-again all-rounder Glenn Maxwell but Cummins did not reveal whether it would be all-rounder Marcus Stoinis or batter Marnus Labuschagne sitting out.

Asked if he might like to turn up the heat on South Africa by reminding them of their World Cup choker’s tag, Cummins cracked a mischievous smile and said, “You already have.”

Reuters