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Australia's Steve Smith (centre) speaks with teammates during a practice session ahead of their Cricket World Cup semi-final match against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Wednesday. Image Credit: AFP

Kolkata: Australia skipper Pat Cummins said his players will draw on experience from previous title wins in their World Cup semi-final clash with South Africa, spurred on by Glenn Maxwell’s heroics having given them “an extra leg”.

Five-time winners Australia went down to the Proteas in the league stage by 134 runs before they won seven straight matches to make the semi-final in Kolkata on Thursday.

Australia, who lost an ODI series in South Africa in September, have beaten their rivals twice in World Cup semi-finals.

“You start from scratch every time you play,” Cummins told reporters. “They’re a team we’ve played quite a lot and know quite well.”

“I think what helps us is we’ve got a lot of guys that have been in this situation before that have won the one-day World Cup, T20 World Cup, various other tournaments in big moments. So, I think that really helps. You can draw on that in the middle of the contest.”

The most dramatic World Cup semi-final between the two teams was a tied match in Edgbaston in 1999 with Australia moving into the final due to a better group stage finish.

Important game of life

Cummins said “the 99 World Cup one, it’s kind of folklore, isn’t it? I’ve seen that replay heaps of times, you hear the stories.”

Cummins, along with David Warner, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood was part of Australia’s 2015 World Cup triumph at home and their maiden T20 World Cup title win in Dubai in 2021.

At this World Cup, Australia began with two losses including a defeat to India in their opener but have been on a roll since and Cummins takes inspiration from the winning streak.

“You can either build it up as the most important game of your life, or you can business as usual, really,” Cummins said.

“And I think with experience, I think just keeping it pretty chilled and business as usual for our group seems to be the way to go. So, you draw back on those past wins but you also just draw back on the last few weeks and know that us at our best is good enough.”

‘An extra leg’

Australia have witnessed some brilliant individual performances including an unbeaten 201 from Maxwell in their dramatic win over Afghanistan and a match-winning 177 not out from Mitchell Marsh against Bangladesh.

Maxwell defied predictions and played through cramps from a dire 91-7 to pull the team to victory in their chase of 292 at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.

“As a team you grow an extra leg because you feel like you can win a match from anywhere and having someone like ‘Maxi’ in your team ... he’s a superstar, he’s a freak, he can win a game from anywhere. Pretty glad he’s in our team.”

Rain is threatening the contest with downpours forecast in the eastern city on Thursday and during Friday’s reserve day.

“We’ll turn up, expect to play a 50-over match tomorrow, any of that shifts on us well. I’m sure in real time we can kind of adjust as needed,” said Cummins.

“In terms of a short turnaround, it’s fine. We’ve played lots of ODIs where you’re playing on Friday, flying to a different city playing on the Sunday. So, it’s not too big of a deal.”

The final is on Sunday at the world’s biggest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad.