Fans have expressed their concerns around the fitness of Australia quick Josh Hazlewood after a couple of telling incidents in Australia's semi-final victory over South Africa at the Cricket World Cup. Hazlewood starred with the ball in the three-wicket victory that booked Australia's place in an eighth World Cup final, where they will face unbeaten tournament hosts India on Sunday night.
The five-time champions were on fire from the first ball against the Proteas in Kolkata, with Hazlewood (2-12) and Mitchell Starc (3-34) getting the Aussies off to the perfect start. The pair had South Africa 4-31 after 13 overs after an exhibition of pace bowling, with Hazlewood picking up the key wicket of Quinton de Kock for just three runs.
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Hazlewood's figures marked the most economical by an Australian bower in 17 years while sending down at least eight overs in a one-day international. However, questions were raised when Aussie captain Pat Cummins failed to turn to his fellow quick for the rest of the innings, despite the fact he still had two overs left to bowl.
Many fans were left to speculate that Hazlewood could have been carrying an injury or a fitness issue, with an image of the quick in consolation with coach Andrew McDonald during a break in play only fuelling concerns. Hazlewood has had a torrid time with injuries over the last few years and was ruled out of this year's World Test Championship (WTC) final against India with a side strain.
Hazlewood not fully utlised despite Zampa's struggles
The veteran quick has suffered a series of side issues and an achilles problem and will be desperate to feature against India in the World Cup final, having missed out against the same opponents in June's WTC final. The decision not to bowl Hazlewood for his final two overs in the semi-final against South Africa was even more puzzling in light of the form of Aussie spinner Adam Zampa.
Despite going into the match as the tournament's leading wicket-taker, the spinner was well below his best after finishing with figures of 0-55 off seven overs against South Africa. The fact that Hazlewood was the pick of Australia's bowlers but still wasn't given his full 10-over allocation, sparked serious questions from fans on social media.
Is Josh Hazlewood injured or what?
why Hoff was not given 10 overs?? https://t.co/8zMDpak7rI
— Happiness✨ (@impactsub_) November 16, 2023
South Africa's 212 runs could be a tricky total. Josh Hazlewood bowled brilliantly (8-3-12-2), it's surprising why Cummins didn't allow him to bowl his full quota of 10 overs and bring him in between to try and get Miller out - not sure if he is injured or what??? #WCCricket
— Venugopal (@VVGVenu7) November 16, 2023
Was Hazlewood injured?
Why on earth didn’t he bowl out his 10??
Zampa got destroyed.
— Guy (@AdelaideRamPage) November 16, 2023
I don't understand why Josh didn't complete his full 10 overs
— . (@long__on) November 16, 2023
Is Hazlewood injured?? Why is Cummins bowling here
— paddleseek (@seeker0016) November 16, 2023
Would love to know the reasoning behind why Hoff isn’t used at the death and why he hasn’t bowled his overs out in forever… under Dhoni’s leadership at CSK he was given that role and was nailing it
— James (@james1777777777) November 16, 2023
Cricket commentator Viren Hemrajani wrote: “There’s no reason to not complete Hazlewood’s quota. Should have been done earlier if he (Cummins) was hesitant to use him in the death”.
Veteran statistician Ric Finlay wrote: "Did Josh Hazlewood have something else to do in Kolkata last night? Bowled the 18th over of the match, a maiden, in a game that lasted 97.2 overs, then was not sighted on my TV screen again!"
Josh Hazlewood fails to bowl 10 overs again
Hazlewood hasn't bowled all 10 of his overs a number of times throughout the tournament, with he and Cummins having both played all 10 games for Australia at this World Cup. Fellow quick Starc was rested for the final group game against Bangladesh and looked refreshed and dangerous in one of his best displays for the Aussies in recent ODI history.
Australia will now turn their attention to Sunday's blockbuster final against a red-hot India side that's yet to taste defeat so far this tournament. Rohit Sharma's side made it 10 wins from 10 after an impressive victory over New Zealand in the other semi-final and the Aussies know they will have to improve their middle order batting if they're to stand a chance of winning a sixth World Cup crown.
The Aussies lost 5-67 in their chase against South Africa, with Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell all playing questionable shots. Cummins (14 not out) and Starc (16 not out) ultimately got them over the line with 16 balls to spare and the Aussie skipper knows another massive test awaits in Sunday's final.
"The good thing is a few of us have been there for a final before, so we can draw on that," Cummins said. "A couple of other guys in T20 finals as well. The stadium is going to be pretty one-sided I reckon. So you just have to embrace it and enjoy it." The match will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad and is a repeat of the 2003 World Cup final - won by Australia.
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