We analyse the second 2023 Cricket World Cup semi-final with our South Africa vs Australia prediction and preview.
South Africa’s route to the knockout stage of the 2023 men’s ICC Cricket World Cup has been one of extremes. Seven impressive victories, including record wins over England (229 runs) and New Zealand (190 runs), and two remarkable defeats, a record 243-run loss to India and a first ever defeat to the Netherlands.
Australia’s journey to this World Cup semi-final has been far from plain sailing. Two heavy early losses, albeit to tournament contenders India and South Africa, put them firmly on the back-foot, but a 100% record since then, including all-rounder Glenn Maxwell’s miraculous match-saving exploits against Afghanistan, has seen them emerge as one of the favourites.
The Proteas have a strong recent record against Australia in this format, winning nine of their last 11 men’s ODI clashes, including the last four in a row. However, South Africa have never beaten the Aussies in an ODI World Cup knockout match, losing in the 2007 semis and memorably tying at the same stage in 1999 at Edgbaston, eliminated with had a worse Super Six record. That match in 1999, which saw them suffer a run out when needing one run from the last four balls, is part of South African sporting folklore and no doubt will be in the minds of everyone watching this 2023 clash as well.
Amazingly, South Africa have never reached the final of the men’s Cricket World Cup, the only team to have reached the semis on multiple occasions but never made it to the big dance. Conversely, Australia have reached more finals (7) and won more titles (5) than any other side in the tournament’s history.
Route to the Semi-Final
- Beat Sri Lanka by 102 runs
- Beat Australia by 134 runs
- Lost to Netherlands by 38 runs
- Beat England by 229 runs
- Beat Bangladesh by 149 runs
- Beat Pakistan by 1 wicket
- Beat New Zealand by 190 runs
- Lost to India by 243 runs
- Beat Afghanistan by 5 wickets
- Lost to India by 134 runs
- Lost to South Africa by 134 runs
- Beat Sri Lanka by 5 wickets
- Beat Pakistan by 62 runs
- Beat Netherlands by 309 runs
- Beat New Zealand by 5 runs
- Beat England by 33 runs
- Beat Afghanistan by 3 wickets
- Beat Bangladesh by 8 wickets
We’ll start with the ball. Adam Zampa has taken the most wickets (22) of any player at the 2023 Cricket World Cup so far. In fact, he’s taken 10 more than any other Australian bowler (Josh Hazelwood, 12). South Africa’s leading wicket-taker has been Gerald Coetzee. The 23-year-old has picked up 18 scalps from his seven innings so far, although Marco Jansen (17), Keshav Maharaj (14) and Kagiso Rabada (12) have all contributed handsomely as well.
Let’s compare the two spinners, Zampa and Maharaj, who have both bowled exactly the same number of overs (79). Zampa has clearly been the bigger threat, recording a higher false shot percentage and subsequently more wickets at a better average and strike rate. However, he has also been more expensive and failed to restrict scoring rates, Maharaj’s dot-ball rate of 60% is the best of any spinner to bowl more than one over in the competition.
What do you place more value on? Wickets or economy? It is an age-old debate in limited-overs cricket. The South Africans will be confident that even if they lose the odd wicket they have the depth to score quickly and put the game out of reach. Will the Australians be able to cut loose against the miserly Maharaj though? It could be a turning point in this clash.
Both these teams have elite top-order batsmen but as has been shown in this World Cup, resistance and counter-punching in the middle order can be vital for teams in this format. So, let’s take a look at the contributions and playing-style of the batters coming in at No 4 to No 7 for the two sides in this World Cup.
These two nations have seen their middle orders contribute more runs at this World Cup than anyone else – South Africa 1,228, Australia 1,091. Not only have the Proteas’ middle-men scored the most runs, they’ve done so with the best strike-rate (127), the lowest dot-ball rate (41%) and best balls-per-boundary rate. They’ve also hit 17 more sixes (53) than any other unit and scored 197 more runs at the death (555) than anyone else. All of this despite the third-highest leave rate (4.1%) and second-highest false-shot rate (27%), a strange combination of prudence but recklessness.
What makes this clash even more tasty is that the Aussies aren’t far behind at all in this facet of the game. Their middle order rank second for runs, balls per boundary (7.6) and third for strike-rate (109) and sixes hit (32); and interestingly, top for false-shot rate. Caution to the wind for both these sides.
Long-story short, this game probably won’t be over until the very last, so expect drama and expect it late.
South Africa vs Australia Prediction
Win prediction: South Africa 42% – Australia 58%
Score prediction (assumes side wins toss and bats first): South Africa – 281, Australia – 305
Top scorer prediction: South Africa – Quinton de Kock (47 runs), Australia – David Warner (51 runs)
The Opta supercomputer predicts this second semi-final will be a close affair, but will ultimately see Australia (58%) reach the final, with South Africa given a 42% chance of victory. Few surprises that Quinton de Kock is expected to top score for the Proteas, with David Warner predicted to hit a half century for the Aussies.
South Africa vs Australia Squads:
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Lizaad Williams , Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.