MANCHESTER – A struggling South Africa will have their work cut out when they face an in-form Australia in their final Cricket World Cup group match in Manchester on Saturday.
Australia top the table with seven wins from their eight matches, while South Africa have won just two of their eight encounters.
Having already guaranteed themselves top-four berth, Australia can sew up top spot by defeating the Proteas and ensure they play their semifinal at the same venue.
Aussie allrounder Glenn Maxwell insists he's not out of form, just out of runs, declaring he's never felt better with bat in hand as Australia approach the pointy end of their sixth World Cup title quest.
With the reigning champions' top-order dominance largely consigning him to late-innings cameos, Maxwell has faced just 75 balls but spanked 143 runs at a tournament-leading strike-rate of 190.66.
The right-hander has admittedly missed opportunities against West Indies, Pakistan and then New Zealand on Saturday to put together a more substantial innings, but he says he isn't stressing about not yet putting together a big score.
"I feel like I haven't hit the ball better in my career, I just haven't got runs," the right-hander, whose highest score is the unbeaten 46 he hit against Sri Lanka, told reporters in Manchester ahead of Australia's final group game against South Africa on Saturday.
"It's nice to be relaxed when I go out in the middle. Runs just haven't come the way I would have liked, but I don't think they're far away.
"If I was out of form and out of runs, I think I'd be a little more nervous.
"It's about not over-complicating it and not reinventing the wheel at training. I've stuck to the way I've gone about my training … and making sure you're not clouding your head even further.”
Maxwell conceded staying in Manchester would be a major mental (and logistical) boost for the Aussies, having earlier in the tournament travelled 700 kilometres and played four games in a gruelling nine-day stretch.
"I would love to stay here. The incentive to finish top would be great," said Maxwell. "To get as much time as you can in one place, you don't have to pack your bags again.
"It feels like we did a lot of that early on in the tournament. We had four games in nine days at one stage where it was pack, unpack, pack, unpack - repeatedly.
"To not have that at this end of the tournament would be nice."
African News Agency (ANA)