In an electrifying World Cup semifinal at Kolkata’s iconic Eden Gardens, Australia narrowly edged out South Africa with a three-wicket victory, propelled by Travis Head’s rapid half-century.
Australian Captain Pat Cummins in the post-match presentation said that in the final the Narendra Modi Stadium will be packed with hosts India’s supporters, but his side will embrace it. Cummins, who was a part of the 2015 World Cup-winning Australian team, also stated that he never thought of reaching another World Cup.
This win marks the third time Australia has bested the Proteas in the World Cup semifinals, having done so previously in 1999 and 2007.
Despite a heroic century by David Miller, South Africa lived up to the unfortunate “chokers” tag, falling short of their maiden final appearance yet again. Australia’s chase of 213 was off to a roaring start with Travis Head and David Warner punishing the South African pacers, Marco Jansen and Kagiso Rabada, with a flurry of runs in the opening overs.
The match’s momentum shifted with Aiden Markram’s part-time spin, which dismissed Warner for 29, bringing Australia to 60/1. South Africa continued to fight back, with Rabada taking a spectacular catch to remove Mitchell Marsh. However, Head was undeterred, reaching his fifty in just 40 balls.
The South African spinners struck again, claiming the wickets of Head, Marnus Labuschagne, and Glenn Maxwell. With Australia at 137/5, the match teetered on a knife-edge. Steve Smith and Jos Inglis built a crucial partnership until Gerald Coetzee’s double strike reignited South African hopes.
Mitchell Starc and Inglis nudged Australia closer to the target, but it was Pat Cummins who hit the winning four, concluding the match at 215/7. Shamsi and Coetzee, taking two wickets each, were the standout bowlers for South Africa.
Earlier, the Australian bowling attack, led by Mitchell Starc with three wickets, had dominated the innings after opting to field first. South Africa’s top order crumbled, but Miller’s counter-attacking 101 from 116 balls carried them past the 200-run mark.
As rain briefly interrupted play, South Africa aimed for a comeback, but Travis Head’s off-break bowling claimed crucial middle-order wickets, including that of Heinrich Klaasen, who had supported Miller in their stand.
With this nail-biting victory, Australia sets up a highly anticipated final showdown against India. The stage is set for a clash of titans, as both teams look to etch their names in the annals of cricketing history with a World Cup triumph.
Brief score: South Africa: David Miller 101(116), Heinrich Klaasen 47(48), Gerald Coetzee 19(39) vs Australia: Mitchell Starc 3/34, Josh Hazlewood 2/12, Pat Cummins 3/51.