‘Have to be better’: Margin for error narrows after loss

Five dropped catches and another batting collapse leaves Australia with two big defeats to start their World Cup campaign

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Marnus Labuschagne says Australia will embrace the pressure of having to win six, if not all, of their remaining seven World Cup matches to keep their title hopes alive after sinking to a record defeat against South Africa.

Australia dropped five catches to add to a worrying trend of poor fielding displays, before another batting collapse ended any hope of overhauling the Proteas 7-311 in Lucknow.

Labuschagne – who top scored with 46 in the chase – admits they "have to be better than that" with their catching percentage of 57.1 from their two World Cup matches the lowest of the 10 nations contesting this year's event in India.

But it's not a new trend either; according to Opta, Australia are ranked 16th for successfully completed catches in one-day internationals in 2023 with 28 drops in 13 matches for a catching percentage of 66.7.

Only Nepal (65.9) and Afghanistan (62.7) are ranked lower.

"I'm not here to sit and make excuses," Labuschagne said.

"We're playing a World Cup for Australia, we have to be ready and we have to be better than that.

"It's hard to put your finger on it, we're one of the best fielding sides in the world. We pride ourselves on that.

"We just didn't seem to get it right today. We created opportunities and just didn't take them and it just wasn't a great performance from us, but we have to bounce back and get this train rolling."

Recalled wicketkeeper Josh Inglis dropped a tough chance off Temba Bavuma that cost 16 runs when a thick outside edge off the bowling of Adam Zampa bounced off his right leg, while substitute fielder Sean Abbott also missed Mitchell Starc with a relay-catch attempt on the boundary as his momentum took him over the square leg rope before the South Africa captain was eventually out for 35.

But it was the missed chance off Aiden Markram (on one) that cost the most as Pat Cummins couldn't hang onto a return catch as the Proteas' No.4 made Australia pay with a 44-ball 56.

Cummins' penultimate over of the innings typified Australia's disappointing afternoon in the field as Glenn Maxwell conceded a two by letting the ball pass through his legs at cover before Starc dropped David Miller the next delivery when a skied hook to fine leg bobbled out of his hands when his elbows hit the ground.

Mitchell Starc drops David Miller // ICC-Getty

Marcus Stoinis then dropped Marco Jansen with a skied drive two balls later that didn't make it out of the fielding restriction circle before Miller smashed the next ball for six to rub salt into the wound.

It comes after Mitch Marsh also dropped Virat Kohli on 12 in their opening match of the World Cup on Sunday, with the Indian superstar going on to punish the Aussies with 85 in a match-winning stand of 165 with KL Rahul.

"Not much needs to be said tonight, I think everyone's hurting," Cummins told the host broadcaster after the 134-run defeat, which was Australia's largest losing margin by runs in their World Cup history.

"We've got a few days, our next game is here as well so we'll regroup and try and make amends.

"I wouldn't say it's one thing, maybe they got a few more than we would have liked and obviously 177 is off the mark so there's a few things we've got to tidy up.

"If we want to be challenging for this tournament, you've got to try and find a way in all conditions and that's for the bowlers to try and take wickets and the batters to try and make runs."

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Labuschagne added it was a "tough (loss) to swallow" but there was no time to "sit and sook in the change rooms".

"That's the reason Australia's won the World Cup five times is because we play well under pressure," he said.

"We can be disappointed about this performance, we can be disappointed about lots of things.

"But we've got to take action and we've got to get our tournament underway. In three days' time we've got Sri Lanka here (on Monday) and we're going need to win every game from here I assume, or at least go close to get into that (final) four.

"We haven't started well, but this is the beginning not the end."

Australia's 2023 ODI World Cup fixtures

October 8: Lost to India by six wickets

October 12: Lost to South Africa by 134 runs

October 16: v Sri Lanka, Lucknow (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 20: v Pakistan, Bengaluru (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 25: v Netherlands, Delhi (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

October 28: v New Zealand, Dharamsala, 4pm AEDT

November 4: v England, Ahmedabad (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 7: v Afghanistan, Mumbai (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 11: v Bangladesh, Pune, 4pm AEDT

November 15: First semi-final, Mumbai (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 16: Second semi-final, Kolkata (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

November 19: Final, Ahmedabad (D/N), 7.30pm AEDT

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa

2023 World Cup standings

Matches played
No results
Net Run Rate
Total points
1 India Men India Men IND 9 9 0 0 0 2.57 0 18
2 South Africa Men South Africa Men SA 9 7 2 0 0 1.261 0 14
3 Australia Men Australia Men AUS 9 7 2 0 0 0.841 0 14
4 New Zealand Men New Zealand Men NZ 9 5 4 0 0 0.743 0 10
5 Pakistan Men Pakistan Men PAK 9 4 5 0 0 -0.199 0 8
6 Afghanistan Men Afghanistan Men AFG 9 4 5 0 0 -0.336 0 8
7 England Men England Men ENG 9 3 6 0 0 -0.572 0 6
8 Bangladesh Men Bangladesh Men BAN 9 2 7 0 0 -1.087 0 4
9 Sri Lanka Men Sri Lanka Men SL 9 2 7 0 0 -1.419 0 4
10 Netherlands Men Netherlands Men NED 9 2 7 0 0 -1.825 0 4

M: Matches played

W: Wins

L: Losses

T: Ties

N/R: No results

NRR: Net Run Rate

Ded.: Deductions

PTS: Total points