World Cup 2019: Australia eager to maintain momentum

Australia will be out to make another statement at the same venue where it could face New Zealand in the semi-finals.

Australia celebrate the dismissal of Ross Taylor at Lord's   -  Getty Images

Australia will attempt to maintain its momentum heading into the World Cup semifinals and seal top spot in the group stage by beating South Africa at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The defending champion was the first team to qualify for the last four and will be guaranteed to face New Zealand in Manchester next Tuesday if it wins the final group match at the same venue.

Aaron Finch's side is a point ahead of India, which faces Sri Lanka earlier in the day and will take on host England at Edgbaston next Thursday as it stands.

Peter Handscomb has been called up to the Australia squad after Shaun Marsh was ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to a fractured forearm, sustained when he was struck by a short ball from Pat Cummins in the nets.

Read: Grilled left to right, Team India set to run into islanders

Glenn Maxwell was also hit on the forearm by Mitchell Starc, but the all-rounder did not do any serious damage and is in contention to face the Proteas.

South Africa will be looking to bow out with back-to-back victories after seeing off Sri Lanka, with Imran Tahir and J.P. Duminy set to play their last ODIs.

TOURNAMENT SO FAR

Two of world cricket's heavyweights have had strikingly contrasting tournaments, with Australia losing just the one match against India and winning seven.

South Africa has suffered a nightmare tournament, losing Dale Steyn to a shoulder injury before he had played any part and winning just twice - against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Australia head coach Justin Langer: "It's about maintaining the momentum of winning. That's really important for us. For this game, some people said it was a dead rubber. There's nothing dead about it."

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis: "It's a great competition between two fierce nations. Yes, they are looking pretty where they are sitting in terms of the World Cup, but we are still going to make sure we give it everything."

 

OPTA FACTS

- South Africa has won seven of its last eight ODIs against Australia, four of those victories coming when chasing a target.

- This will be the 100th ODI between the two nations. Australia have won 48 of those and South Africa 47.

- David Warner and Aaron Finch have both recorded five scores of 50 plus in the tournament. No Australian player has ever recorded six scores of 50-plus at a World Cup.

- Mitchell Starc needs four wickets to become the fifth player to reach 50 World Cup scalps. His bowling average of 13 is the best of anyone to take 20+ wickets in the history of the competition.