Australia's inability to take wickets in the powerplay has emerged as a worrying issue for Pat Cummins and his bowlers, and could prove costly in their semi-final clash with South Africa at the Cricket World Cup. Australia will take on the Proteas on Thursday, with a spot in the final against India or New Zealand up for grabs.
The Aussies have won seven-straight games after suffering back-to-back losses to India and South Africa to start the tournament, and will like their chances of getting revenge on the Proteas. But one area that will need to improve is their bowling in the first few overs.
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Cummins' men failed to take a wicket in the first 10 overs against Bangladesh, who raced to 0-62 in the powerplay. As Ricky Ponting pointed out in commentary, the Aussies have only taken eight wickets in the powerplay so far this tournament - the third fewest among all 10 teams.
“That’s got to be a worry for them,” Ponting said. “It’s one thing I’ve been a little bit disappointed with.
“You look at the release of the Australian quicks, compared to the releases of the Indian quicks. (Mohammed) Siraj, (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Mohammed) Shami hit the seam, bowl upright, down the wicket, getting some shape and seam. The Australians haven’t been able to swing the new ball hardly at all right the way through this series, and for mine it’s all down to that release point.”
Matthew Hayden added: “Australia have found themselves in the powerplay getting hurt, because they haven’t been getting wickets.” Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood have been largely ineffective with the new ball, and Cummins hasn't taken a wicket in the powerplay in his last 11 one-day internationals.
Marcus Stoinis or Marnus Labuschagne to miss semi-final?
Ponting suggested the Aussies should switch things up and give Marcus Stoinis a crack. “I’m a big believer in utilising the skills of everyone in your side,” he said. “Stoinis has got the skill to move the new ball, we saw him opening the bowling in South Africa … he’s also not going to be costly. I just think they probably missed an opportunity in the last couple of games to actually have an experiment, have a look at that.”
The only issue is Ponting and Shane Watson both agreed that Stoinis probably shouldn't be in the Aussie XI for the semi-final. With Glenn Maxwell set to come back into the side after being rested against Bangladesh, it looks like Stoinis or Marnus Labuschagne will miss out.
Labuschagne has played every game of the tournament, staying in the side when Stoinis, Maxwell, Mitch Marsh and Steve Smith missed games. Ponting revealed that Labuschagne would have been dropped for the game against Afghanistan, before Smith was ruled out due to vertigo issues.
“But if you actually look at the numbers through this series, he hasn’t done a bad job, second leading run scorer," Ponting said about Labuschagne. "And I know the most important phase for Australia through this tournament they haven’t got right yet is their middle order batting. They haven’t got that right and they need to fix that quickly.
“If you’re going to win the World Cup, you’re going to have to fix those overs 11 to 40, because so far in the tournament they’ve lost 12 more wickets in that period of time in the tournament than what India have through the whole tournament - India have only lost 20 wickets through that phase. I probably would [retain Labuschagne]. I mean even today we’ve seen Australia have gone to Mitchell Marsh’s bowling before they used Stoinis.”
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