Cricket World Cup: Pat Cummins confident of Australia's chances against Proteas

Aussies banking on great record in knockouts against South Africa, who have equally poor one in them, during their semi-final in Kolkata

Australia's Glenn Maxwell, left, is expected to be fit for the World Cup semi-final against South Africa in Kolkata. Reuters
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Australia will be the favourites to cross the World Cup semi-final hurdle in Kolkata on Thursday, not only because of their excellent record in the knockout stages of ICC events, but also because of the terrible history of their opponents South Africa in must-win games.

The five-times champions shook off a sluggish start in India by winning seven matches in a row to make the last four. They have won four of the last six ODI World Cups, while they also won the T20 World Cup in the UAE in 2021.

By contrast, South Africa have never progressed beyond the semi-finals of the 50-over World Cup. Poor luck and stage fright have combined to end the Proteas' hopes on many occasions.

"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 the 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."

The Aussies did not have the best of starts to the tournament, losing to hosts India and South Africa before finding their groove, with spinner Adam Zampa hitting form at the right time.

"I think we've come a long way since the start of the tournament," pace bowler Cummins 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 all-rounder Marcus Stoinis or batsman Marnus Labuschagne will miss out.

While Australia are on a roll, South Africa know they will have to play their best game yet.

"A lot of people believe that this could be the year that we see ourselves in the final," said South Africa captain Temba Bavuma, who remains doubtful to play in the semi-final due to a hamstring injury.

"We'd like nothing better than that. But we also respect the game of cricket. We're not coming up against a Mickey Mouse team. Australia have a lot of experience and confidence in knockout games like this, so we've got to respect that."

The most shocking World Cup exit for South Africa was their 1999 semi-final loss to Australia after the match in Birmingham ended in a tie and their rivals went through due to a better group finish.

Australia also easily came out on top in a 2007 semi-final clash between the teams in the Caribbean.

Bavuma said the mindset of his team remains confident ahead of the match.

"From a skill point of view, from a physical point of view, the guys are quite confident," said Bavuma.

"There's a sense of calmness within the team and obviously the normal level of anxiety that you would expect of going into the game tomorrow."

Updated: November 15, 2023, 11:55 AM