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South Africa's Aiden Markram in action during the Cricket World Cup match against Sri Lanka at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi on October 7. Image Credit: AFP

Lucknow: Australia captain Pat Cummins described the World Cup as the “most physically taxing” format for fast bowlers as batsmen pile up record scores around India.

With just six of 45 days ticked off, the 2023 tournament has already seen South Africa score the highest ever World Cup total of 428.

That came against Sri Lanka in New Delhi where the two innings produced a tournament record 754 runs.

Aiden Markram clubbed the fastest World Cup century in 49 balls in that game while, on Tuesday, Pakistan chased down a record target of 345 to beat Sri Lanka.

In a further bout of misery for bowlers, 10 centuries have been scored over the first eight games.

“It’s actually quite a physical format, I find it probably the most physically taxing if you’re playing two or three games in a week,” said Cummins ahead of their second World Cup match against South Africa on Thursday.

“We’re doing 15km in a 50-over match. I think in T20, if you bowl one really good over, that can be match-winning.

“In one-day cricket, that’s not normally the case. And it’s rare that the conditions are really in the bowler’s favour, which is fine. It’s just a challenge you’ve got to try and deal with.”

Ran riot

Sri Lankan bowlers have supplied a snapshot of the challenge described by Cummins.

In their loss to South Africa, seamers Kasun Rajitha and Matheesha Pathirana conceded 185 runs between them.

Pathirana suffered again as Pakistan ran riot in Hyderabad on Tuesday, giving away another 90 runs in his 10 overs.

Five-time champions Australia suffered a six-wicket loss to India in their tournament opener, ironically in a rare low-scoring encounter at Chennai.

After bowling the Aussies out for just 199, India reached their target inside 42 overs with Virat Kohli surviving a dropped chance on 12 to make a match-winning 85.

‘Hard balance’

Cummins went wicketless in that match and took just two wickets in two ODIs Australia played against India in the run-up to the tournament.

“I’m really happy where it is,” he said of his form in ODI cricket where he has 126 wickets at an average of just over 28.

“I feel like it’s in as good a place as it ever has been. I think early in my career, I found it a hard balance between Test cricket and T20, like getting too funky.

“I always find with one-day cricket; your roles can be very different. It’s a different kind of challenge to the other formats.”

Cummins said his team will be ready for familiar foes South Africa.

The Proteas won a recent series between the two teams 3-2 after trailing 0-2.

“It always feels like it’s a clash of two very similar teams,” said Cummins.

“So yeah, no doubt it will be another great game tomorrow. We always match up quite similarly against them.”

Different condition

Unlike Australia’s struggles in their opener, South Africa had three centurions — Quinton de Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Markram — firing against Sri Lanka.

“They’ve always got some fast bowlers and some batters that take the game on, maybe a leg-spinner. So, it always feels like it’s a clash of two very similar teams,” said Cummins.

Cummins said all-rounder Marcus Stoinis was fit and available after missing the first match with a hamstring injury.

“He’s fit so yeah, we’ll announce a team tomorrow but it’s a ground he knows pretty well,” said Cummins of Stoinis who plays for the Lucknow team in the Indian Premier League.

“I think chatting to him and a couple of other guys, it’s probably in a bit of a different condition to what it is for the IPL. The wicket looks really good.”

Australia will, however, continue to be without opener Travis Head, nursing a hand injury.