If Australia can’t control their own destiny by beating South Africa in the one-day tri-series on Tuesday, Zimbabwe are only one upset away from knocking them out for a place in Saturday’s final.
The equation for the Australians is simple – beat the Proteas on Tuesday (5.30pm AEST) and set up a rematch against their fierce rivals for the tournament trophy.
Lose and leave the door open for Zimbabwe to continue their giant-killing run against a potentially second string South African team on Thursday, and head home to Australia embarrassed.
Proteas captain AB de Villiers grinned when asked which team he’d prefer to face in the final and admits he will likely rest players against Zimbabwe should his team put their own status for the decider in Harare beyond doubt by beating Australia.
Before their remarkable three-wicket win over the Australians, Zimbabwe also gave the Proteas a scare.
High on confidence, the hosts would like their chances against South Africa should they take a convenient chance to freshen up the likes of Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and JP Duminy.
“I think (we have a preference on who we play in the final), but we’ll wait until we get there,” said de Villiers.
“(Resting players) will definitely come up after tomorrow’s game.
“We’ve got a few niggles around so it mightn’t be a bad idea to rest a few guys.
“First things first, we have to play a good game against Australia and hopefully come away with a win.”
The Australians were given a spray by coach Darren Lehmann in the sheds at the Harare Sports Club after they came off the field against Zimbabwe, and then held a team meeting at the hotel to “get rid of all the negatives”.
Lehmann said the team hasn’t lost belief and must simply take mathematics out of the equation and concentrate on beating South Africa.
“We can’t control what other teams do,” he said.
“We need to win and we know that.
“It’s very much a chance (to avenge the upset). The lads are looking forward to it. Obviously everyone was disappointed last night and the sun came up today and now it’s about getting ready to play.”
De Villiers believes his attack can expose Australia’s deficiencies against spin bowling, with the South Africans considering playing two spinners – Imran Tahir and Aaron Phangiso.
Australia are recalling Mitchell Johnson and Steve Smith.
Likely Australia: Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Marsh, George Bailey (capt), Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon