In a fiercely contested semi-final clash at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens, Australia claimed a nail-biting three-wicket win against South Africa, propelling them into the ODI World Cup final for the eighth time. The intense encounter witnessed fluctuating fortunes, as David Miller’s resilient century lifted South Africa to a hard-fought total of 212 runs after a shaky start.
Facing a challenging chase on a turning track, Australia’s aggressive start by Travis Head and David Warner saw them amass 60 runs within the first six overs. However, South African spinners staged a comeback, with Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi claiming crucial wickets to disrupt Australia’s momentum.
As the chase tightened at 137/5, South Africa’s Gerald Coetzee added further drama with twin strikes, raising hopes of a dramatic turnaround. Yet, Australian skipper Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc exhibited remarkable composure to guide their team over the finish line in 47.2 overs, setting the stage for a thrilling finale against arch-rivals India in Ahmedabad.
Earlier in the match, South Africa’s top order crumbled against the fiery pace attack of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, leaving them reeling at 24/4. However, David Miller’s heroic century, despite early struggles, steered South Africa’s recovery. Miller’s resilience, coupled with a brief partnership with Heinrich Klaasen, provided the Proteas with a fighting chance.
Notably, Miller’s innings, comprising eight fours and five sixes, was a masterclass on a turning wicket, as he tackled the Australian bowling attack, notably Adam Zampa, with aggressive strokes. However, a lack of support from the tail-enders resulted in Miller’s dismissal in the 48th over.
Australia’s formidable bowling duo, Starc and Hazlewood, capitalized on the pitch’s conditions early on, exploiting swing and bounce to restrict South Africa’s scoring opportunities, resulting in a slow powerplay start – their slowest since 2008.
The match witnessed tense moments, gripping performances, and a display of sheer determination from both sides, ultimately culminating in Australia’s hard-fought victory, solidifying their spot in the pinnacle clash against India in what promises to be an electrifying final showdown.