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Cricket World Cup: South Africa v Australia preview

The group stage of the World Cup is over and now there is no room for error as Australia prepare to take on South Africa in the semi-finals, in the cauldron of Eden Gardens, Kolkata.

The Baggy Greens, 4.33 to lift the World Cup, began the tournament with losses to hosts India and the Proteas, before responding in superb style to win their next seven matches and reach the last four with some ease.

The standout moment of the group stage was undoubtedly Glenn Maxwell’s simply astonishing unbeaten double-century in the win over Afghanistan, while leg-spinner Adam Zampa excelled in taking a tournament-leading 22 wickets.

Add in 499 runs from David Warner and over 400 from Mitch Marsh and there are plenty of reasons to be positive heading into the second showdown of the tournament with the Proteas.

WhatSouth Africa v Australia
WhereEden Gardens, Kolkata
When18:30 (AEST), Thursday 16th November 2023
How to watchFoxtel, Kayo & 9Now
OddsSouth Africa 2.10, Australia 1.72

South Africa dominated in Lucknow

When these two sides met in the group stage, the Proteas were heavy 134-run winners, racking up 311-7, with Quinton de Kock making a superb 109 and Zampa going for 70 from his ten overs.

Chasing, the Baggy Greens were never really in the hunt, with Marnus Labuschagne top-scoring with 46, while the left-arm spin duo of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi took two wickets each and paceman Kagiso Rabada ended with figures of 3-33.

Despite that result, Australia are 1.72 to reach the final, with South Africa priced at 2.10.

Of course, Australia and South Africa have plenty of history of World Cup meetings, with the Baggy Greens claiming four wins to the Proteas’ two, including a victory in the semi-finals of the 2007 tournament.

The most famous clash came at the 199 World Cup, when their semi-final showdown ended in a dramatic tie, which was enough to send Australia through to the final, where they thrashed Pakistan by eight wickets.

Team news

Maxwell and Mitchell Starc sat out the eight-wicket win over Bangladesh in the final group game, but both are expected to return to the fold for the semi-final, with Sean Abbott and Marcus Stoinis the pair most likely to make way.

And Starc is eager to make his mark, having taken just 10 wickets in the tournament to date, telling reporters: "I certainly haven't been at the level that I would have liked, but now there's a chance at the pointy end to make the biggest impact."

Starc is 4.00 to be Team - Top Bowler in the semi-final, with Zampa available at 4.00.

South Africa have a doubt over skipper Temba Bavuma, who has been struggling with a hamstring injury and Aiden Markram will lead the side if his fellow batter is ruled out.

At the top of the Proteas batting order is has been feast or famine for De Kock, who has scored four centuries in nine innings, with his other five knocks 20, 4, 24, 5 and 41 - he can be backed at 4.00 to be Team - Top Batter on Thursday.

Left-arm seamer Marco Jansen has been highly effective with the new ball and has 17 wickets to his name, while the express pace of Gerald Coetzee has done damage in the middle overs - he has taken one more wicket than Jansen.

Weather could intervene in Kolkata

Rain could become an issue as the semi-final gets underway, although having a reserve day in place should mean a positive outcome is reached.

Should it not, then South Africa will progress due to finishing above Australia in the group stage.

The semi-final will be the fifth game of the competition to be played at Eden Gardens, with three of those four having been won by the team betting first, including when India dished out a massive 243-run thrashing to South Africa.

The 1.90 tournament favourites - who face New Zealand in the other semi-final - racked up 326-5 from their 50 overs, before skittling the Proteas for 83 all out within 28 overs.

Left-arm spin did most of the damage that day, with Ravindra Jadeja taking 5-33, while Kuldeep Yadav chipped in with two wickets.

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