Ricky Ponting backs Labuschagne over Stoinis for Australia’s semi-final clash against South Afric

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World Cup-winning skipper Ricky Ponting has backed Marnus Labuschagne to retain his position in the playing XI for the semi-final clash against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. Notably, Travis Head’s injury sealed his spot in the playing XI and after the left-handed batter finally joined the squad, Labuschagne was expected to make way but due to one injury after the other, the cricketer managed to hold his place at number four.

However, ahead of the semi-final, when both Glenn Maxwell and Steven Smith are fit, Labuschagne’s spot is once again a matter of discussion. Interestingly, Ponting pointed out that the cricketer should feature in the playing XI ahead of Marcus Stoinis, who has been very average in the World Cup. He reminded that Labuschagne is currently the second-leading run-scorer for Australia and stated that he can be extremely valuable in the middle overs.

“I probably would (retain Labuschagne)… we’ve seen Australia have gone to Mitchell Marsh’s bowling before they used Stoinis,” Ponting said on the Fox Cricket broadcast.

“If you actually look at the numbers through this series, he (Labuschagne) hasn’t done a bad job, second leading run scorer… and I know the most important phase for Australia through this tournament they haven’t got right yet is their middle order batting. They haven’t got that right and they need to fix that quickly. If you’re going to win the World Cup, you’re going to have to fix those overs 11 to 40,” said the 48-year-old.

With two new balls swinging around, you do need your best technically equipped batters: Shane Watson

Former cricketer Shane Watson reminded that Australia lost a lot of wickets in the middle phase and hence, believes that the team needs technically equipped batters to counter the challenge in the semis. He also believes that Labuschagne has the calibre to do so and backed similar sentiments as his former skipper.

“If Australia end up batting second in a semi-final, that period with those two new balls swinging around, you do need your best technically equipped batters who can handle that moving ball. Labuschagne, with the Test skills, he’s got the ability to be able to handle a moving ball. There is a chance that Australia will have to bat second under lights, and he’s done a very good job of that throughout this tournament,” Watson mentioned.

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