Left-field answers to fix Khawaja conundrum
Usman Khawaja's campaign could be over - and World Cup-winning captain Michael Clarke has a left-field solution, plus the growing concerns about Glenn Maxwell. Here's what we learned overnight!
Australia has been rocked by key injuries with Matthew Wade and Mitchell Marsh likely to be called into the squad as cover for Khawaja (hamstring) and Marcus Stoinis (side strains) respectively.
The injured duo will underdog scans on Sunday with Khawaja certain to be ruled out of the tournament.
Stoinis is likely to follow, given he was booked for two scans after picking up a fresh injury (right side) and aggravating the one from last month (left side).
Handscomb joined the World Cup squad on Friday as Shaun Marsh's replacement after he suffered a broken arm at training on Thursday.
While 2015 World Cup-winning captain Michael Clarke said Wade was the logical replacement for Khawaja, he said it would be a poor look for selectors if Handscomb wasn't parachuted into the middle order against England at Edgbaston.
"I'm assuming, if you look at current form, they have to bring Matthew Wade in, and then one of those two players (Wade or Handscomb) has to play," Clarke said.
"It doesn't look great for the selectors if they bring Handscomb in first and another player in second and then he jumps the queue.
"So I'm assuming Australia will bat Steve Smith at No.3 in the semi-final and Handscomb at No.4."
Australia A captain Travis Head smashed 138 (120) last Tuesday and could also be considered although if Wade was ignored yet again there would be an uproar.
Australia was thrust into the semi-final it didn't want after a nightmare finish to the group stage saw it relinquish top spot with a 10-run loss to South Africa as the injury crisis hit.
Mitchell Starc was also left icing his knee after the Old Trafford upset but said he would be OK to face England.
"I'm all good - bowling is hard, painful at times," Starc said.
"I had a bit of ice on it. See how it pulls up, but I'm feeling pretty confident and have been throughout the tournament."
Captain Aaron Finch said Australia would "map out every scenario" but noted that Handscomb, who ran the drinks against South Africa, was a proven performer.
"Pete, every time he's had an opportunity to play for Australia he's done really well and played some crucial innings for us in India and in the UAE," Finch sad.
"He's ready to go if needed."
Stoinis broke down against India on June 9 and, while he made a swift return, the powerful allrounder never looked fit and has bowled just five overs in the past two games.
Mitchell Marsh spent a week in the World Cup camp on standby for Stoinis last month before returning for Australia A, where he made 126 runs without getting dismissed and took 3/43 last Sunday.
Wade averaged 88.8 at a crazy strike-rate of 182 as opener in four Australia A wins while Handscomb averaged 74.5 runs as wicket-keeper.
But Handscomb set up Australia's charge to the World Cup, averaging 43.5 at a strike-rate of 98.2 in the 13 ODIs leading up to the tournament.
He was only cut to make room for Steve Smith.
Glenn Maxwell has four days to learn how to cope with short balls or he could be bounced out yet again by the express pace of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer.
Former great Andrew Symonds put Maxwell's weakness on the agenda and the following day Maxwell was put in hospital by a Mitchell Starc bouncer in the nets.
Then, against South Africa, and with Australia urgently needing an innings of substance, Maxwell rushed into a hook shot against Kagiso Rabada and top-edged the ball to a flying Quinten de Kock.
It was an athletic catch but it showed once again that Maxwell is susceptible to the short stuff.
WARNER CRADLES ANOTHER CENTURY
David Warner's teammates looked almost too refreshed, losing their hardened edge after a week off.
But the left-handed slasher's unusual lead-up to last night's final group game appeared to do the trick.
Warner's wife Candice gave birth to their third daughter at 10.30pm last Sunday night, with Warner spending Isla Rose's first three nights in London before heading to Manchester.
Well, he remained in the zone with a masterful 122 (117). But perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised.
In 2014 after the birth of his first child, Ivy Mae, Warner hit a century in his next Test match.
Then, in 2016 when Indi Rae was born, Warner blasted 93 and 122 in Australia's next two ODIs.
Warner now has three tons at this World Cup and three tons from his past four ODIs against South Africa. He is Australia's No.1 batsman, and arguably the world's.
LYON A WHITE-BALL MARVEL
Nathan Lyon should be one of the first players picked for Australia's World Cup semi-final. After the Test great was left on the bench for the first six games of the tournament, Lyon's control and accuracy has been pivotal ever since.
In the two games at Lord's, Lyon built pressure after the quicks delivered early wickets.
Against South Africa at Old Trafford, Lyon was brought on in the sixth over after a messy start and delivered.
He dismissed both openers and kept hitting the same spot, bowling with precision and control.
It's taken him 31 years, but Lyon is finally Australia's frontline spinner.
Mitchell Starc's bad days are still better than plenty of bowlers' good ones.
Against South Africa, Starc missed his mark early, and was taken out of the attack, yet still jagged a pair of important wickets.
Starc has played 17 World Cup games and struck in every single one of them, and Starc equalled Glenn McGrath's (2007) record of 26 wickets in a World Cup.
Starc's first wicket of the semi-final will break the record in one fewer game than McGrath played.
Plenty would argue that Starc is, again, player of the tournament ahead of Shakib Al Hasan.
HEADS, YOU WIN
The World Cup winner looks a coin toss - literally.
There is nothing like runs on the board late in the England summer and, under the heightened pressure a World Cup brings, that theory thickens.
Teams batting first are 27-14 in the World Cup with only one successful run chase beyond 250, when Shakib Al Hasan inspired Bangladesh to chase down West Indies' target of 322.
It would be a surprise if a captain won the toss and chose to bowl in a knockout contest.