Australia captain Aaron Finch acknowledged that his side will draw confidence from their league-stage win over England last month, as they gear up to face the hosts once again, in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup.
“You have to beat everyone regardless of who it is or where it is. Playing well against England at Lord’s a couple of weeks ago will give us some good confidence going into that game,” Finch told reporters in Manchester, after their narrow 10-run loss to South Africa in their final league game.
The loss meant that Australia stayed put at No.2 on the points table, and will now face England, on July 11, in the second semi-final in Birmingham.
“There’s been a lot of build-up to the World Cup and especially getting towards the pointy end. England have been in really good form recently so again we’re going to have to be at our best to win that.”
Finch’s century at the top, and Jason Behrendorff’s maiden ODI fifer, had helped Australia to a comfortable 64-run win against the hosts, on June 25, on their way to a semi-final spot.
RESULT: South Africa finish off their World Cup with a nervy 10-run win over Australia. Du Plessis (100) and Van der Dussen (95) took the Proteas to 325 before Rabada (3-56) and Pretorius (2-27) tied down the Aussies.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 6, 2019
Ahead of the semis, Australia have injury worries to address; Usman Khwaja looked in apparent discomfort with a hamstring issue, while Marcus Stoinis seemed to have trouble with his side.
“Usman’s not looking great, in all honesty,” Finch said. “He’s done a couple of hammies before and he said it feels similar to that. So, in terms of replacements, we haven’t had time to sit down and talk about that yet.”
With the injury worries in place, Australia might be tempted to include Nathan Coulter-Nile in the playing XI. The 31-year-old pacer adds considerable depth to their batting; just last month, he scored a career-best 92 to rescue them from 79-5 against West Indies. Peter Handscomb, who replaced the injured Shaun Marsh in the squad, is also in contention for a middle-order spot.
“Over the next couple of days, it will probably be a bit more telling when we get the results of Usman and Marcus’s scans tomorrow when we know who we’ve got available to play, and then we’ve got till Thursday to sit down and map out what we’ve got to try and find our best line-up to beat England, and that is all we can do.”
“We have talked about the flexibility the squad has had over the last four or five weeks, that everyone is ready to go at any stage, so that doesn’t change regardless of what happens. Everyone will be preparing as if they are going to play.”
It hasn’t been easy for them, but South Africa’s consolation win, only their third in nine games, turned out to be a hearty swansong for the retiring Imran Tahir and JP Duminy. Skipper Faf du Plessis seemed relieved that the team ended on a winning note, culminating a bleak campaign, perhaps their poorest outing at a World Cup.
“After a tough tour, I’m just glad that hopefully the team could put a small smile on the South African supporters’ faces again,” du Plessis said. “I know they, just as much as we do, enjoy beating Australia. There’s always rivalry there, so a small smile, but we’ll take it.“
“Obviously, performances weren’t up to scratch where we needed to be in the first seven games. Inconsistent. But the last two games have been brilliant. We’ve played some remarkable cricket and it’s sad that it didn’t happen earlier.”