The potential of a rare rain-affected match at the World Cup could add an extra layer to an otherwise simple toss call for Australia’s crunch semi-final against South Africa.
Rain is forecast for Kolkata later in the week, causing a potential hurdle for Australia given they must win Thursday’s semi-final to progress.
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A reserve day is available to complete the match if required, but further wet weather is predicted around the Eden Gardens ground on Friday as well.
Australia could consider themselves incredibly unlucky if both days were lost, given none of the previous 45 games have been washed out at this World Cup.
Still, the weather could in theory present an extra conundrum for Pat Cummins and South Africa counterpart Temba Bavuma at the toss.
Pat Cummins could be forced into a massive gamble during the coin toss. Credit: Getty Images
Batting first has become increasingly popular at this World Cup, with the average score 8-289.
Such is the difficulty of chasing, the average 132-run winning margin for teams batting first in this tournament is the highest in World Cup history.
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“The wickets have probably been two different wickets during the day and night,” Australia quick Mitchell Starc said this week.
“It’s certainly been more beneficial to swing the ball and nip the ball in the second innings, when the sun has gone down and we’ve been under lights a bit.”
But the weather could force a rethink.
Chasing is generally a preferred option for teams in rain-affected games, where they are able to have a greater control over their own fate.
It would still be a bold call for Australia to send the Proteas in on Thursday, if Cummins calls correctly.
South Africa have won all five games they have batted first in this tournament, passing 300 on every occasion and posting an average score of 6-375.
In their two losing chases, they were bowled out for 83 and 207 by India and the Netherlands respectively.
“The toss of the coin obviously plays a part,” Starc said.
“But it’s not the be all and end all. We’ve won some games chasing in this tournament which is a big tick.
“Like everyone, they (South Africa) have had challenges chasing at night here in India.
“If they put us under pressure then we’re in the same ballpark. If we end up bowling first we need to be mindful of the conditions and have a plan of attack.”
Under ICC conditions, a match will be deemed complete on Thursday if 20 overs have been bowled in the second innings.
If the match has not progressed that far and rain hits, the game will be continued on Friday to get a result, with all scores carrying over from Thursday’s play.
A similar situation played out in 2019 World Cup, where New Zealand beat India by 18 runs on a second day in Manchester.
If the match isn’t completed then South Africa will progress to the final as the higher-ranked team.
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