AUSTRALIA’S Marcus Stoinis bats during a nets session at the Ekana Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP
AUSTRALIA’S Marcus Stoinis bats during a nets session at the Ekana Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.—AFP

LUCKNOW: Australia all-rounder Marcus Stoinis has shaken off a hamstring problem and is available for their World Cup meeting with South Africa on his familiar hunting ground of Lucknow, captain Pat Cummins said on Wednesday.

Stoinis was sore after Australia’s first match of their 2-1 series defeat by India last month and skipped two warm-ups and the loss to the hosts in the World Cup, but Cummins said he will be looked at closely for Thursday’s clash.

The 34-year-old plays for the Lucknow-based Super Giants in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and knows the conditions well.

“He’s fit so yeah, we’ll announce a team tomorrow but it’s a ground he knows pretty well,” Cummins told reporters.

“I think chatting to him and a couple of other guys, it’s probably in a bit of a different condition to what it is for the IPL. The wicket looks really good so yeah, he’s someone we’ll look at pretty closely.”

Australia were dismissed for a below-par 199 in their first match, before suffering a six-wicket defeat by India in Chennai, but Cummins said he expects a high-scoring game in Lucknow.

“When it’s a good wicket – which that looks like – most of the games have been 300 plus,” Cummins said.

“I haven’t had a look at it today, but last night it looked really good, really even. Maybe a bit of pace and bounce. We’ll see how it is tomorrow.”

Australia’s specialist leg-spinner Adam Zampa went wicketless in the last game and gave away 53 runs from eight overs but Cummins said critics should not look too deeply into his form.

“I thought he [Zampa] bowled okay but it’s pretty hard defending 200 and trying to create something out of nothing. I’m sure he would be great out there,” Cummins said.

“Again, if you have a bit more of a total to bowl to, he’s one of our key guys.”

Five-time champions Australia will be wary of South Africa, who made 428-5 in their opening win over Sri Lanka with three of their batsmen — Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram – smashing centuries.

De Kock predicted the high-profile clash with old rivals Australia will be decided by a battle of “big egos”.

De Kock, who will quit international cricket at the end of this tournament, has enjoyed being part of a Proteas side who have had the upper hand in recent years.

Since 2016, South Africa have won 15 of their 20 meetings with Australia in One-day Internationals.

“The Australians and us have always had a great history, a good competitive background,” said 30-year-old De Kock on Wednesday.

“Both teams are going to come out fighting tomorrow, and whoever makes the right choices under pressure will be the stronger team at the end of the day.”

He added: “Both teams are strong teams, both got big egos, both want to win, want to beat each other.”

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2023

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