Australia get the chance to seal top spot in the Cricket World Cup standings when they face South Africa in the final match of the group stages at Old Trafford on Saturday.
There is an outside chance for Australia to slip down to second with a loss, but they can avoid that by defeating the already-eliminated Proteas in day/night ODI.
Aaron Finch’s Australia have been exceptionally effective, especially after losing to India initially in the tournament. Not the usual bull-dozing performances that you see from an Australian side in the WC, but this has been no less effective.
The form of openers Finch and Warner is a huge positive for the side, although the slow-paced batting in the middle-overs is a concern. Thankfully for the Aussies, Mitchell Starc (24 wickets) is doing a splendid job with the ball. Even if they choose to rest him, Australia have a potent attack at its disposal.
South Africa have just two wins in the tournament and are destined to finish in the bottom-half. At best, they can hope to move above Bangladesh, depending on their result against Pakistan.
Captain Faf Du Plessis remains their top-scoring batsman (287 runs), but it is the consistent Rassie van der Dussen (216 runs, Avg. 54) that has caught the eye. Chris Morris and Imran Tahir have been the only South African bowlers with double digit wickets.
- Australia are unbeaten in their last four WC H2Hs (W3, T1) and haven’t lost since 1992 to South Africa in the WCs.
- Australia have lost seven of their last eight H2Hs.
- Australia have won nine of 17 neutral venue H2Hs, but have lost three of their last five.
- Australia have won both their matches at this venue, although they have last played here in 2005.
- South Africa have won their last seven day-night ODIs.
Australia will have one eye on the upcoming first semi-final, which happens to be just three days after this game.
They are still not guaranteed a first place, with a loss likely to relegate them to second place and the second semi-final, but Australia should bring their best game to the table and will not concede an inch to the Proteas.
Prediction: Australia win ($1.40 TopBetta)