South Africa head Rob Walter and Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc attributed the outcome in the second ODI World Cup semifinal to the first 10 overs in either innings. The Proteas were reduced to 24 for four following incisive new-ball spells from Josh Hazlewood and Starc, while Travis Head and David Warner added 60 in the first six overs of a 213-chase.
“Ultimately, I think that sort of separated us,” Walter said about his team’s top-order collapse. “The first 12 overs of batting was a serious challenge. It was gutting to lose the semifinal. But beyond that, I am incredibly proud of the fight shown by the boys. We’ve played some cricket in this competition that has really been world-leading. There are broken records. We’ve seen young guys, with less than 15 games to their name, stand up and really dominate in certain phases of the game.”
Starc took three for 34 with the ball and kept Pat Cummins company with the bat as Australia reached its eighth World Cup final. The left-arm quick was chuffed with the PowerPlay bowling display. “To start the game like that with Joshie [Hazlewood] and I... PowerPlay wickets have probably been not our strong suit through the tournament, so it’s nice to have a PowerPlay like that. It was great bowling the way Jos (Hazlewood) and I did. Then Trav (Travis Head) with bat and ball and the way Davey (David Warner) led by example on the field—it was great,” Starc said.
While the Eden Gardens pitch did provide excessive assistance to the spinners as Australia’s chase progressed, it was still curious to see South African pace spearhead Kagiso Rabada bowl just six overs. Walter revealed the reason, “He had a bruised heel. That’s why we did not see much of him in this contest. It was a pity; I don’t think it was a defining moment in the game.”
The Australian batters struggled against quality spin bowling in Kolkata, raising questions about their preparedness to face Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav in the final. But Starc is unperturbed. “Guess we will see (how our batters play spin) once we get to Ahmedabad. Depends on whether it is a fresh wicket or an old one,” Starc said with a smile.
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