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Dominant Australia aim for top spot in points table
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Dominant Australia aim for top spot in points table

There has been little respite for South Africa in this World Cup who will now face an in-form Australian side for the final game of the group stage on Saturday.

Twenty years ago, the two teams played out one of the most iconic encounters in ODI cricket when a dramatic run-out in the last over of the match crushed South African dreams of making it to the final of a World Cup and kickstarted Australia's decade of dominance in the sport.

None of the heightened emotions that once dictated clashes between Australia and the Proteas exist now as the present contest is devoid of any bearing on the tournament and is primarily a 'dead rubber'.

However, Australia head coach Justin Langer is adamant his side views the upcoming game as vital to maintaining their triumphant charge.

"It's about maintaining the momentum of winning," he said ahead of the match at Old Trafford. "That's really important for us.

"For this game, some people said it was a dead rubber. There's nothing dead about it."

Barring a setback against India, Australia's campaign has been imperious as they aim to hold their supremacy in the points table and head into the semi-finals unperturbed.

South Africa, meanwhile, exhibited their worst ever performance at a World Cup.

Crippled by injuries to key players early on, they never really took off with consistently mediocre batting displays bearing the brunt of the defeats.

They were able to recoup some lost pride in their nine-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the previous game but a host of issues continue to trouble the balance of the side.

Faf du Plessis' men will still hope for an end to the tournament on a high note and see some of their future stars rise to the occasion against one of the favourites to win the title.

Potential World Cup debut for Handscomb

Peter Handscomb was called in as a replacement for middle order batsman Shaun Marsh, who has been ruled out of the tournament due to a broken wrist.

While Handscomb might not have been the first choice in the team soon after his arrival in England, Glenn Maxwell seems to have copped a blow during the net session before the match.

Maxwell's doubtful fitness might pave the way for Handscomb to make his World Cup debut as he would be looking forward to making the most of this opportunity.

Imran Tahir bids farewell

Imran Tahir, arguably the greatest white ball spinner of his generation, will be taking the field one last time in the 50-over format when he battles it out against the Australian batsmen.

The oldest cricketer in this year's edition, Tahir still bowled with substantial bite and vigour to cap off a decent tournament for him personally.

There will be an added onus on the rest of the Proteas line-up to give a memorable send-off to their most valuable spinner, who would be itching to launch his celebratory run once again on the grandest stage.


Australia: Aaron Finch (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb, Alex Carey (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Pat Cummins, Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon

South Africa: Faf du Plessis (c), Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Rassie van der Dussen, David Miller, Chris Morris, Andile Phehlukwayo, JP Duminy, Dwaine Pretorius, Beuran Hendricks, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Imran Tahir, Tabraiz Shamsi