Australia defeated South Africa by three wickets in the second semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2023 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata, on Thursday.
Australia, looking for their sixth World Cup, are set to lock horns with India, who eye their first ICC trophy since 2013, in the much-anticipated final on November 19 in Ahmedabad where more than 100,000 spectators are expected to watch the showdown between two powerhouses.
Despite an easy and low target, the Aussies started on a high note and continued to play with 7 runs per over rate and showed no sign of stopping.
Even though they lost two wickets in quick successions with David Warner (29 off 18) and Mitchell Marsh (0 off 6) walking back to the pavilion in successive overs, Travis Head continued the charge against South African bowlers.
However, they started to lose wickets in the middle overs and found themselves helpless against the spin attack of Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi as the spinners combined for three, important wickets, together.
The wickets continued to fall with Gerald Coetzee picking up crucial wickets as he removed the well-set batters, Steve Smith and Josh Inglis.
However, Mitchell Starc and skipper Pat Cummins held their nerves and guided their side to a victory as the Aussies eventually, after much struggle, chased the target in 47.2 overs with Head top-scoring for the winning side with 62 runs.
This was the fifth time South Africa played and lost the World Cup semi-final with their previous coming in 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015 and it seems that they would have to live with the “choker” tag for some more years.
Batting first, South African batters looked clueless against Australian bowlers as they kept on losing early wickets.
The Proteas suffered the first blow with skipper Temba Bavuma, who has failed to score big in the entire tournament, losing his wicket at the end of the first over to Mitchell Starc for a duck.
They started to bat cautiously but they were met with another blow with their most in-form batter Quinton de Kock getting out for just three runs in the sixth over.
Wickets continued to fall for the Proteas’ as they looked helpless in front of the deadly bowling attack of Pat Cummins’ men and were soon 24-4 in 11.5 overs.
It looked like their innings would be over before scoring 100 runs in total but Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller provided their side with a much-needed breakthrough and formed an important 95-run partnership.
The two batters were all set but Travis Head increased the Proteas’ trouble as he took two wickets in two balls by removing Klaasen on 47 runs and handing Marco Jansen a golden duck.
Despite all the setbacks, Miller didn’t stop and continued to score for his side and eventually completed his well-deserved and hard-fought century but the left-handed batter was removed soon after on 101 runs he attained with the help of eight fours and five sixes.
South Africa were all out for 212 runs in 49.4 overs courtesy of a terrific bowling display by Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins as the three-pacers combined for eight wickets.