Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting and all-rounder Shane Watson want the team management to retain Marnus Labuschagne in the playing XI in the semifinal clash against South Africa. The right-hander has scored 286 runs in nine matches of the ongoing World Cup 2023 at an average of 35.75 and a strike rate of 77.08.
However, with Mitchell Marsh and Glenn Maxwell doing a fine job for Australia and with Steve Smith also expected to return, it will be interesting to note the team’s combination. In fact, Marcus Stoinis’ place in the final XI is under scrutiny as he has managed only 87 runs in six matches.
Ricky Ponting said as quoted by Sydney Herald, “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 has 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.”
Ponting added Australia’s middle order has looked a bit tentative and they will need to sort out that area in the all-important semifinal against South Africa.
“If Steve Smith had passed his fitness test, which he didn’t, then Labuschagne was the one missing out and Stoinis was staying in the side. But if you actually look at the numbers through this series, he hasn’t done a bad job, second leading run scorer … 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.”
On the other hand, Shane Watson added that Marnus Labuschagne has the ability to handle the moving ball as he is technically sound.
“He’s someone who has done a very good job for Australia throughout this World Cup, and as well Marcus Stoinis hasn’t set this World Cup alight yet. What we’ve seen in this World Cup, is if Australia end up batting second in a semifinal, that period with those two new balls swinging around, you do need your best technically equipped batters who can handle that moving ball.
Australia will take on South Africa in the second semifinal at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Thursday.