Manchester, July 5: Australia have been a dominant force in ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, winning seven of the eight matches so far. While the openers have been giving good starts consistently, Alex Carey, the wicket-keeper batsman, has shown his class with a match-winning performance in the last game against New Zealand.
The bowling unit, led by the ever reliable Mitchell Starc, has been further bolstered by the inclusion of Nathan Lyon in the playing XI. Victory against South Africa will ensure that they head into the semi-finals as the top ranked team in the points table.
Middle-order batsman Shaun Marsh might've been ruled out of the tournament with a fractured forearm, but the Aaron Finch-led side has found an able replacement in Peter Handscomb, who had played a crucial role in the series win against India earlier this year.
South Africa, plagued by injuries and poor form of their key players, have had a disappointing World Cup. The four-time semi-finalists find themselves at the eighth position in the points table with two wins from eight matches. Chris Morris, Rassie van der Dussen and Imran Tahir were the only notable performers for a major part of the season. In the nine-wicket win over Sri Lanka, however, both skipper Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla were at their fluent best.
The World Cup rivalry between these two sides is defined by the historic semi-final clash of the 1999 edition where Australia inched past the Proteas after a thrilling tied finish at Edgbaston. South Africa have had the upper hand in recent times winning eight of the last ten completed matches. Recent form and on-paper team combinations however, suggest otherwise.
David Warner (Australia): The Australian opener has been in a rich vein of form, having scored 516 runs from eight innings in this World Cup. Warner, who scored a stroke filled 173 in his last outing against South Africa in October 2016, will look to produce a similar performance to carry his glorious run into the knockouts.
Faf Du Plessis (South Africa): The South African skipper showed his class with a fluent 96* in his last outing against Sri Lanka. Du Plessis, who averages 51.58 against Australia with four centuries to his name, will eye another big score against one of his favourite opponents, to power his team to a victory in their last game of the 2019 World Cup.
A narrow band of patchy rain and drizzle is expected early in the morning which will clear away by the time the game starts in the afternoon. Cloud cover is expected for a major part of the day. Teams batting first have won each of the four games played at Old Trafford in this World Cup so far.
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.