Australia captain Pat Cummins expressed his surprise at England's underwhelming performance in the World Cup but still considers them formidable opponents.
The two Ashes rivals are set to clash, with Australia eyeing a win to bolster their semi-final aspirations at Ahmedabad's grand cricket stadium.
Australia, a five-time World Cup champion, will be missing two pivotal players: Glenn Maxwell (injured) and Mitchell Marsh (back home for personal reasons), leaving them with only 13 players in the squad. In contrast, defending champions England are teetering on the edge of World Cup elimination, having suffered five defeats in six matches, with another loss spelling their exit from the race for the final four.
Cummins remarked, "Yeah, a little bit surprised; they've obviously got some class players and performed really well in these kinds of tournaments over the last few years. These tournaments can be quite unpredictable. In T20 tournaments worldwide, sometimes even the most talented teams struggle initially to gain momentum."
Notably, England eliminated Australia in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals on their way to clinching their inaugural title. Despite England's recent struggles, Cummins remains wary of their capabilities, stating, "They have a similar set of players, so they remain a dangerous opponent. Any team with such quality players must be handled with caution."
The match between the two teams is imbued with memories of their intense and contentious Ashes series, which ended in a 2-2 draw, making this encounter even more meaningful.
Cummins sees the historic rivalry as an additional motivation to secure victory and enhance Australia's chances of reaching the semi-finals, saying, "Winning this match would certainly boost our chances of making it to the semis. It's a longstanding rivalry, and winning against them holds special significance. Moreover, considering their history in white-ball cricket, it would be a significant victory."
Australia's strong position in the tournament, with four victories, has positioned them well for the semi-finals. However, the absence of Maxwell and Marsh has posed a challenge.
Cummins expressed confidence in their ability to secure a spot in the final four and move forward with a complete squad. He mentioned, "We need to reach the semi-finals, and hopefully, this is the last minor setback where we have a smaller squad to choose from. As we approach the crucial stages, we'll have a full squad."
Cummins also provided updates on the injured players, indicating that Maxwell, who suffered a concussion after falling off a golf buggy, is expected to be fit for their match against Afghanistan. However, Marsh's return date remains uncertain, and Cummins did not specify a timeline for his comeback.