Aussies count on ‘big moment’ experience to down Proteas
While South Africa insist they will not be burdened by scarring from their chequered record in World Cup knockout matches, Australia are counting on having experienced World Cup winners giving them a boost when the two old rivals face off in a much-anticipated semifinal in Kolkata on Thursday.
The Proteas have made four semifinal appearances in the showpiece - in 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015 -- but have fallen to defeat every time, twice losing to Australia.
In 1999, they lost to Australia after a dramatic tie at Edgbaston which saw their rivals go through due to a better group stage finish.
Kolkata's Eden Gardens, however, could be the stage for redemption for South Africa who made the semifinals by winning seven of their nine league matches.
The Proteas have won their last four meetings with Australia, including a 134-run thrashing in the league stage in Lucknow four weeks ago.
"A lot of people believe that this could be the year that we see ourselves in the final," South Africa skipper Bavuma, who remains doubtful to play the semifinal due his hamstring injury, told reporters.
"We'd like nothing better than that."
Despite South Africa always carrying the 'chokers' tag with them and also their sombre past against Australia in the tournament, Bavuma urged that the mindset of his team remains confident ahead of the knockout contest.
"From a skill point of view, from a physical point of view, the guys are quite confident [than others]," said Bavuma.
"I think we'll take a lot of confidence with our performances up until this point."
Meanwhile, Australia skipper Pat Cummins said his players will draw on experience from previous title wins for today's game.
"You start from scratch every time you play," Cummins, however, dismissed being complacent due to Australia's boastful World Cup record.
"I think what helps us is we've got a lot of guys that have been in this situation before that have won the one-day World Cup, T20 World Cup, various other tournaments in big moments. So, I think that really helps. You can draw on that in the middle of the contest."
At this World Cup, Australia began with two losses including a defeat to India in their opener but have been on a roll since and Cummins takes inspiration from the winning streak.
"You can either build it up as the most important game of your life, or you can business as usual, really," Cummins said.
"You draw back on those past wins but you also just draw back on the last few weeks and know that us at our best is good enough."
Australia have witnessed some brilliant individual performances including an unbeaten 201 from Maxwell in their dramatic win over Afghanistan and a match-winning 177 not out from Mitchell Marsh against Bangladesh.
"As a team you grow an extra leg because you feel like you can win a match from anywhere and having someone like 'Maxi' in your team....he's a superstar, he's a freak, he can win a game from anywhere. Pretty glad he's in our team."
Rain is threatening the contest with downpours forecast in the eastern city on Thursday and during Friday's reserve day.