Set up final showdown against India
Kolkata: Five-time champions Australia excelled on the big stage yet again as they pulled off a scrappy three-wicket win to shatter South African dreams and reach their eighth ODI World Cup final here on Thursday. On a testing turner, David Miller absorbed extreme pressure on way to a rearguard 101 and take South Africa to a fighting 212 after losing their first four wickets for 24 runs in the second semifinal. It was a below par total but the Proteas did a make a match out of it with a spirited bowling effort before Australia, as they often do, held their nerve to close out the game in 47.2 overs, setting up a mouthwatering showdown against fierce rivals India in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
Living with the chokers’ tag for decades, South Africa came up short in another ICC knockout game but were able to take the game right down to the wire. They dropped as many as five tough catching chances, proving to be the difference in a low-scoring game.
Australian skipper Pat Cummins (14 not out off 29) and Mitchell Starc (16 not out off 38) survived some tense moments before taking the team over the line.
The win extends Australia’s remarkable run in the tournament, having bounced back from defeats in their first two games against India and South Africa. Australia began the chase on an aggressive with Travis Head (62 off 48), and his opening partner David Warner (29 off 18) slamming 60 runs in the first six overs.
South African spinners brought their team into the game with Aiden Markram (1/23) dismissing David Warner and Keshav Maharaj (1/24) ending Head’s stay in the middle.
Leftarm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (2/42) then further complicated the matters by taking two big wickets of Maruns Labuschagne (18) and the dangerous Glenn Maxwell to spice up the contest.
At 137/5, Australia had Steve Smith and Josh Inglis in the middle and 74 runs to get before Gerald Coetzee (2/47) brought another twist into the game with twin strikes.
In the end, the experience of Cummins and Starc came in handy.