Glenn Maxwell is still battling the effects of cramping and was ruled out of Australia's clash with Bangladesh at the Cricket World Cup on Saturday. Maxwell rescued Australia in their last match against Afghanistan, blasting an incredible double century when his side looked dead and buried.
The Aussies slumped to 7-91 while chasing 293 for victory, before Maxwell peeled off the highest score by an Australian male player in a one-day international, and just the third double century in World Cup history. The incredible knock sealed Australia's spot in the semi-finals with one match remaining in the group stage.
That match was against Bangladesh on Saturday, but assistant coach Daniel Vettori revealed on Friday that Maxwell was struggling to back up. The all-rounder battled a back issue and severe cramping during his match-winning innings, admitting afterwards that he considered retiring hurt.
With Australia's spot in the semi-finals and a match-up with South Africa already secured, the Aussies played it safe and rested Maxwell for the Bangladesh match. Making life easier for selectors is the fact Steve Smith is back after missing the game against Afghanistan due to vertigo issues.
"He's definitely been in full recovery mode the last few days. I think we all saw the effects of the innings and in particular the heat," Vettori told reporters in India. "Today's a big day to see how he pulls up. We'll just see how he feels as the day continues on but it's obviously been pretty hectic for him the last few days.
"It'll be how he feels – I don't think it'll be a fitness-test scenario. We understand that obviously now that the semi-final is pretty definitive in Kolkata that it will be a build towards that. He does have a track record of being able to bounce back pretty quickly, even with some time away from the game."
Aussies opt to rest Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc
Sean Abbott also came in against Bangladesh as the Aussies opted to rest Mitchell Starc. Fast bowlers Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood had all played every game so far.
"If you take it all the way back to the start to try and get those three fast bowlers through nine games in a short period of time, we always probably presume that that would be a tough challenge," said Vettori. "Sean was always in the picture as a potential replacement for one of them, so I think that'll come into the equation once again, just weighing up how everyone comes through these last few days. I don't think it'll be a case of trying to play a game just for the sake of it – it'll be a case of if one of those three fast bowlers needs a bit of a break."
— CricBlog ✍ (@cric_blog) November 10, 2023
— BETaWAY (@RoundHouseBet) November 10, 2023
I think it’s fair for him to have a rest after carrying the team on his back
— JayRad (@jayrad198900) November 10, 2023
Rest everyone, i dunno why he would play
— Matt Grimston (@MatthewGrimston) November 10, 2023
South Africa make statement in win over Afghanistan
While the Aussies struggled against Afghanistan and were only saved an embarrassing loss by Maxwell's heroics, South Africa had no such troubles on Friday night. The Proteas saw off a spirited fightback from Afghanistan to win by five wickets with 15 balls to spare to lock up second place on the ladder behind India.
Afghanistan posted 244 in 50 overs on the back of Azmatullah Omarzai's unbeaten knock of 97, which included seven boundaries and three sixes. Quinton de Kock set up South Africa's chase with a breezy 41 that took him to the top of the tournament's scoring charts on 591 runs.
The Proteas were in a spot of bother at 5-182, but Rassie van der Dussen made 76 not out to guide them home, putting on a 65-run partnership with Andile Phehlukwayo who smashed the winning runs with a six.
"In any chase, there has to be an anchor, we had a lovely platform and that made it easy for me to come in and assess the conditions," van der Dussen said. "We've seen what our batting line-up can do and we got some good partnerships in the middle there."
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.