Australia defeat South Africa by three wickets in thrilling semi-final, to meet India in World Cup Final clash
Australian batsmen held their nerves in testing conditions to beat South Africa by three wickets in a nail-biting semi-final encounter in Kolkata's iconic Eden Gardens Stadium on Thursday (November 16, 2023) to set a summit clash against unbeaten India.
After bowling out South Africa for 212 runs, the Australian batsmen, despite facing a tough challenge from a spirited South African side that tried desperately to turn its fate this time in the World Cup, reached the winning target of 215 runs for the loss of seven wickets.
Pat Cummins (14*) and Mitchell Starc (16*) added a match-winning 22-run eighth-wicket partnership to ensure the former champions reached their eighth World Cup final.
Travis Head remained the pick of the Australian batsmen as he contributed 62 runs while David Warner added 29 runs to give the five-time World Champions a strong start to the run chase.
Head hit nine boundaries and two sixes in his well-anchored innings as South African spinner Maharaj dismissed him in the 15th over to give the African side a chance to rebound in the game.
Markram, earlier, provided South Africa with the first needed break by dismissing David Warner and Rabada ensured the second breakthrough by removing Mitchell Marsh (0).
Left-arm spinner Shamsi dismissed Marnus Labuschagne (18) and Glenn Maxwell (1) to bring back South Africa in the contest.
The last time the two sides fought in a semi-final match of the World Cup was in 2007 when Australia had comfortably defeated the opponent and reached the final. Ricky Ponting's men then defeated Sri Lanka to win the title.
However, Steven Smith (30) and Josh Inglis (28) fought back and once again set Australia on the path of reaching the target.
South Africa's speedster Coetzee picked up both the batsmen to give yet another challenge to the Australian brigade but skipper Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc ensured a victory at the end with 16 balls to spare.
South African fans, who were present in the stadium, looked disappointed as their side once again failed to cross the semi-final hurdle with Australia beating them twice earlier in 1999 and then in 2007.
On debut, South Africa had reached the last four stages of the showpiece tournament in 1992. In a rain-hit match, the African side failed to reach the final owing to a strange calculation.
Disappointing fans and surprising the cricket world, England reached the final in Australia that year.
Earlier in the day, David Miller (101) hit a defiant century as South Africa recovered from a nightmarish start to post 212 against Australia.
Opting to bat first after winning the toss, South Africa were reduced to 4-24 with Australian bowlers utilising the Eden wicket condition perfectly.
Heinrich Klaasen remained the second top scorer for the side with 47.
Miller remained the only hope for South African batting which collapsed in the crucial encounter in Kolkata.
He hit eight boundaries and five sixes in the innings.
Australian pacers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc shared three wickets each.
Josh Hazlewood and Travis Head scalped two each to bowl out South Africa for 212.
In a clash of two titans, India will now face Australia in the final match in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
The two sides had last met in a World Cup final in 2003 when Australia had completely dominated the clash to lift their third title.
Fans would now expect Rohit Sharma and his sparkling side to continue their brilliance and win their 11th straight match in the tournament to lift the title for the third time.
India last won the World Cup in 2011 by beating Sri Lanka in the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, the same venue where the Men In Blue defeated New Zealand to book their seat in the final this time.
Australia won their last 50-over title in 2015 on their home turf.