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ICC World Cup: Australia to set up title clash with India

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In the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, Australia registered a three-wicket win over South Africa in the second semi finals at the Eden Gardens, in Kolkata last night to set up summit clash with India.

Chasing a target of 213 runs, Australia overhauled the score, posting 215 for the loss of seven wickets in 47.2 overs. Earlier, opting to bat after winning the toss, South Africa were bowled out for 212 runs in 49.4 overs.

India defeated New Zealand by 70 runs in the first semifinals on Wednesday to enter the finals. The final will take place on Sunday in Ahmedabad. 

India and Australia are no strangers to big occasions: Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc, the highest wicket-taker in the last two One-day Men’s World Cups, limbered into the post-match press conference with a broad smile on his face, having just helped Australia pip South Africa in a run-chase with the bat at the business end. However, he acknowledged that Mitchell Starc, the bowler, hasn’t been up to the mark in this World Cup, and appreciated his opening partner, Josh Hazlewood and his other teammates for a complete performance.

“It was probably not the tournament that we would like from the get-go, but it was nice to step up in a big game.” said Starc. “Our powerplay got us on our way. Powerplay wickets haven’t been our strong suit in our tournament so it was nice to have a power play of 2-18. The way Josh bowled throughout to finish 2-12 was incredible. Trav (Travis Head) with bat and ball, the way Davey stepped up in the field and led by example.”

Starc went on to give his insights on the pitch, emphasizing that he didn’t know if the conditions were harder to bat on initially, but mentioned that the bounce was consistent, despite the lateral movement off the pitch and in the air.

“It was a bare wicket. I’m not sure if it was slightly tougher to start with the bat due to being under covers for some amount of time. There was consistent pace, nipped a little and a little bit of swing, and the inconsistencies made it tough to bat on in the first ten overs. “

The left-arm express pacer appreciated his right-arm counterpart’s effort with the ball, as he played his role to perfection, accurately bouncing the ball on the same spot and reaping the rewards on the biggest stage.

“Looking at Joshy’s pitch map, that’s what he does well in Test match bowling. The way we run off each other, to have that powerplay that we did and carry the momentum trough the middle, is how we want to start matches so that’s what we want to do in a big game,” said Starc. “The South Africa openers did try to put pressure on us in phases, but Josh was incredible with his line and length, and we were able to build dot balls, which brings about a shot that Quinton played. The discipline we showed today and the fielding prevented them from going harder.”

With the bat, Starc mentioned that the first ten overs have been difficult for batting through the World Cup, but some daring along with some fortune, would give you a start like Travis Head and Warner did, taking the pressure off the middle and lower orders.

“Davey and Heady put the pressure straight back on South Africa. When you’re willing to take the game on like that and take some luck with you. If Trav carried on a bit longer, he probably looked a bit ominous there not to get closer to.a hundred. It was much needed given what happened at the back end, giving us some extra time to not have to go so hard at the end.”

Starc also acknowledged that South Africa bowled well in patches, in particular with their spinners at the end, but also spoke about the domino effect – getting players like Klaasen and Miller in early so that they are less likely to cause significant damage at the back end.

“We knew South Africa are dangerous at the back end, and if we can get Miller and Klaasen in early, in the first 20 overs, then we’re well on our way. It makes it a bit harder for them to back end it. That’s pretty much the way we set up with the bat, to take the game on and back them to put pressure. It got tougher with the spin, and South Africa bowled well in patches to put pressure back on us, but the way we started with the bat helped.”

About playing India in the final, and taking on the only unbeaten side in the tournament, Starc was matter-of-factly in his response, accepting that it’s unlikely that a team would win a World Cup without beating the best side of the World Cup, and that the two sides were no strangers to big occasions.

“That’s why we play the game, we take on the best, they’ve been the best in the tournament so far, and that’s why we find oursleves in the final. That’s what World Cups are about. It’s a big occasion, a World Cup final. Both teams played each other in the Test final earlier this year, soI don’t think either change room is new to big occasions. It’s going to be loud and passionate, and it’s just going to be a great spectacle and everyone in our changeroom look forward to the occasion.”

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