by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Australia’s hesitancy in chasing sizable targets seems to have vanished ahead of a semi-final clash with old rivals South Africa. This transformation was underscored by Mitchell Marsh’s stunning innings of 177 not out at No.3, propelling Australia to their second consecutive record World Cup chase against Bangladesh in Pune. The team comfortably chased down 307 with eight wickets and 32 balls to spare.
Marsh’s exceptional performance, marking his highest ODI score and first century at first drop, addressed concerns about the team’s top-seven balance. Steven Smith’s composed, unbeaten 63 at No.4, coupled with a 175-run partnership, secured Australia’s seventh consecutive win in the tournament.
Bangladesh, despite a commendable 306 for 8, faced a relentless Australian batting display. Towhid Hridoy’s 74, the highest World Cup score of his career, proved insufficient as Adam Zampa’s stellar middle-over bowling and Marnus Labuschagne’s exceptional run outs limited Bangladesh’s progress.
Mitchell Marsh’s century, his second in this World Cup, was particularly crucial. His formidable partnership with David Warner (53 off 61) set the stage for victory, dispelling doubts about Australia’s middle order. However, Warner’s dismissal raised questions about the Marsh-Smith No.3-4 dynamic.
Labuschagne’s impactful contributions in the field ensured Australia’s target didn’t exceed 306. With Glenn Maxwell set to return, the selectors face a dilemma. Labuschagne’s brilliant fielding compensated for the less impressive bowling performance of Marsh and Stoinis, who conceded 91 runs in nine overs.
In the bowling department, Zampa’s control in the middle overs and Sean Abbott’s precision at the death showcased Australia’s depth. Abbott, replacing Starc, finished with figures of 2 for 61 from 10 overs, delivering slower ball bouncers with finesse.
Despite concerns about Marsh and Stoinis with the ball, Marsh’s outstanding century and Maxwell’s return bolster Australia’s prospects in the upcoming knockout games. The team’s newfound confidence in chasing substantial totals adds a formidable dimension as they brace for the semi-final against South Africa.