Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell called out in 'horrible' scenes before World Cup final

The Aussies suffered a worrying batting collapse in the semi-final against South Africa.

Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell at the Cricket World Cup.
Steve Smith played a horrible shot as Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell fell to spin. Image: Getty

Australia know they will have to be miles better in the Cricket World Cup final against India on Sunday after Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell both played poor shots amid a worrying batting collapse against South Africa. The Aussies advanced to the final in a thrilling three-wicket win over the Proteas in Thursday night's semi-final, with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc getting their side over the line with 16 balls remaining.

But there were concerning scenes for the Aussie batters as they suffered an all-too familiar collapse after a blistering start. After bowling out the Proteas for just 212, the Aussies were cruising early at 0-60.

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David Warner made 29 and Travis Head 62 as the openers went on the attack against the South African seamers. But the introduction of spin sparked a staggering Aussie collapse, with Cummins' side losing 5-67 as the match was turned on its head.

Mitch Marsh was dismissed for a duck after a brilliant catch from Rassie van der Dussen, while Marnus Labuschagne was out for 18 reverse sweeping, and Maxwell was bowled for one after playing a wild slog across the line. Labuschagne and Maxwell both fell to Tabraiz Shamsi, with the Eden Gardens pitch producing plenty of spin.

Smith made a composed 30 off 62 balls, while Josh Inglis chipped in with a vital 28 off 49. But Smith had an absolute brain fade to turn the game back in South Africa's favour, skying the ball straight in the air after a wild swing off the bowling of Gerald Coetzee. Wicket-keeper Quinton de Kock took a tricky catch to send Smith packing, and when Coetzee clean-bowled Inglis the Aussies were teetering at 7-193.

Former England captain Michael Atherton described Smith's shot as a “horrible hack”, while Shane Watson said: “That’s an uncharacteristic loose shot from Smith." The former Aussie captain appeared to be in a state of disbelief as he walked off the ground that he'd played such an awful shot at a crucial time.

Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc save Australia's blushes

Thankfully for the Aussie batters they were saved by bowlers Starc and Cummins, who put on a 22-run partnership to get their side home. Starc made 16 not out off 38 balls, while Cummins finished on 14 not out off 29.

It marked the third time in the last few months that Cummins has been there at the end in a tense run chase for Australia. He combined with Nathan Lyon in a 55-run partnership to win the first Ashes Test while eight wickets down, and played a pivotal role when Glenn Maxwell saved Australia with a double century against Afghanistan earlier in the World Cup.

Gerald Coetzee, pictured here after dismissing Steve Smith in the Cricket World Cup semi-final against Australia.
Gerald Coetzee celebrates after dismissing Steve Smith in the Cricket World Cup semi-final against Australia. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

But the middle order collapse will be a cause for concern ahead of the final against an Indian side who haven't put a foot wrong so far. Rohit Sharma's side have won 10-straight matches at their home World Cup, including a 70-run victory over New Zealand in the first semi-final.

“It’s certainly going to be a big occasion, a World Cup Final in India. It’s going to be loud,” Starc said. “I think it’s just going to be a great spectacle of cricket, no doubt. There’s going to be a lot of passion there. Certainly, everyone in our changing room is looking forward to it.

“I don’t think either changing room is new to big occasions. You want to take on the best and that’s why we play the game. They’ve been the best team in the tournament so far and we both find ourselves in the final. That’s what World Cups are about.”

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