Wounded winners and South African farewells... WORLD CUP TALKING POINTS

The Cricketer takes a look at some of the major talking points to emerge from South Africa's win over Australia at Old Trafford...

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No rest for the winners

So Australia stuck with a winning side, stuck with the XI that beat New Zealand at Lord’s a week ago. But, in the process, have their - relatively seamless - World Cup plans come unstuck.

At the toss, with Australia having had a week off, captain Aaron Finch commented: “Few boys got their feet up and good to get away. We are unchanged and it seems to be working for us.”

Now you can make an argument for both here, and retrospect clearly muddies the waters, but which is the right way to go? Stick with your winning formula or wrap people in cotton wool?

If Australia had come through this one unscathed, with solid performances under their belts and bodies fit and firing, then the decision to pick the best XI looks like a constructive call.

If, on the other hand, as we saw today, muscles look worn and torn, it can make the risk look far greater than any reward.

Usman Khawaja had to retire hurt just five balls into his innings with a suspected hamstring injury. Marcus Stoinis looked constantly hampered by his back.

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Faf du Plessis had a decent day

Perhaps worst of all for Australia, Mitchell Starc appeared to be struggling with his knee at times as well.

Having just had an extended period away from match intensity, you can understand why players were not further rested if the physios were happy. There’s nothing to say the likes of Usman Khawaja or Marrucs Stoinis would have been the players rested, of course.

There’s nothing to say Mitchell Starc, who is in sublime form, would have allowed himself to be given the cotton-wool treatment even if his team had wished.

Does rest bring rustiness, or does a relentless desire to get through every game bring too much risk?

We’ll let Australia continue to make the calls on that front…

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Warner struck 122

Farewell Imran and JP

Today’s match saw both JP Duminy and Imran Tahir making their final ODI appearances for South Africa. 

Duminy bows out having made 199 one-day international appearances for the Proteas, scoring 5,117 runs, four hundreds taking 69 wickets since making his debut in 2004. Unfortunately for JP, it has not been the greatest of farewells. The allrounder averaged just 17.50 with the bat and claimed a single wicket as South Africa endured a disappointing campaign.

Tahir leaves having made played in 107 ODIs for his country, taking 173 wickets in that time.

The 40-year-old spinner picked up 11 wickets in this tournament - taking his overall tally to 40 - which saw him pass Allan Donald (38) as the country’s leading wicket-taker in World Cup history.

Warner's wonderful week

It’s been quite a week for David Warner, who only returned to the Australia camp on Thursday, having been in London with his family as wife Candice gave birth to their third child - Isla Rose -last Sunday. 

The opener showed no signs of sleepless nights however with a typically-sensational hundred against South Africa on Saturday. His 122 gave Australia real hope of pulling off a fine chase. That hundred takes his tournament tally to 638 and counting.

Semi-final line-up confirmed

And with this, the final match of the 2019 World Cup's group stage, we now know the semi-final line-up.

India will meet New Zealand at Old Trafford on Tuesday while defeat for Australia means Finch's men must leave Manchester and face the hosts England at Edgbaston on Thursday.

Our coverage of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 is brought to you in association with Cricket 19, the official video game of the Ashes. Order your copy now at Amazon.co.uk

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