After making a great start while chasing a modest target of 213 runs, the Australian team fell behind but managed to get out of the jail at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata due to a brilliant fight by the lower middle-order batsmen.
With this win, five-time champions Australia advanced to their 8th final, while it was another heartbreaking fifth World Cup semi-final defeat for South Africa.
On a test turner, David Miller withstood immense pressure to score 101 and take South Africa to 212 after losing their first four wickets for 24 runs.
This was a below average score, but the Proteas won the match on the back of excellent bowling, but Australia, as they often do, showed courage to finish the game in 47.2 overs.
South Africa, who have lived with the tag of chokers for decades, fell short in another ICC knockout game but managed to tie the game. He missed at least five tough catching chances, which proved to be the difference in a low-scoring game.
Australian captain Pat Cummins (14 not out off 29 balls) and Mitchell Starc (16 not out off 38 balls) survived some tense moments before taking charge of the team.
as it happened
The win continues Australia’s remarkable performance in the tournament, having bounced back from losses in their first two matches against India and South Africa.
Australia made an aggressive start with Travis Head (62 runs off 48 balls) and his opening partner David Warner (29 runs off 18 balls) scoring 60 runs in the first six overs.
The 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 stint in the middle.
After this, left-arm wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi (2/42) made the match more complicated by taking two big wickets of Maroons Labuschagne (18) and the dangerous Glenn Maxwell.
At 137/5, Australia had Steve Smith and Josh Inglis in the middle and Gerald Coetzee (2/47) brought another twist to the game with twin strikes.
In the end the experience of Cummins and Starc came in handy.
Earlier, in gloomy and windy conditions, South Africa showed familiar signs of suffocation when their top four Quinton de Kock (3), temba they agreed (0), Rassie van der Dussen (6) and Aiden Markram (10) were out cheaply, leaving their score at 24/4 in 12 overs.
Mitchell Starc (10-1-34-3) and Josh Hazlewood (8-3-12-2) were making the most of the conditions, but after a 40-minute rain delay, it was the Miller show.
Miller’s 116-ball effort was his sixth ODI century and the first for the Proteas in a World Cup knock-out game.
The left-handed batsman took a hit on his finger off Josh Hazlewood’s delivery, but remained steady and continued his ‘killer-mode’ with the help of eight fours and five sixes.
On a turning wicket, Miller had little trouble and was particularly brutal against Adam Zampa, conceding 55 runs in his seven overs.
He reached the three-figure mark by hitting a 94-metre long six off Pat Cummins over square leg.
His 95-run partnership with Heinrich Klaasen (47 from 48) gave South Africa considerable respite, before part-time off-spinner Travis Head disrupted South Africa’s recovery by taking two wickets in two balls.
After Klaasen, Gerald Coetzee (19) provided good support to Miller and quickly stitched a fifty-plus partnership for the seventh wicket.
But it ended in a nightmare as Coetzee fell through the gloves of Cummins to Josh Inglis at the bridge. Replays showed that the ball had only hit his elbow, but he did not take a review.
Due to lack of partners, Miller was eventually out in the 48th over.
Having lost two of their matches chasing the target, South African captain Temba Bavuma backed his strength by opting to bat first, but it proved to be a haven for the fast bowlers.
The Australian new-ball bowling duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood enjoyed the conditions, letting the ball do the talking in a sensational bowling display and reducing power-packed South Africa to 17/2 inside the powerplay, the highest since 2008. This was his slowest performance since.
There was ominous swing, sharp bounce and the South African openers looked timid against Starc and Hazlewood, conceding more than 50 dot balls in the first 10 overs.
It was not just the bowling pair, but the fast fielding of Australia’s Marnus Labuschange and David Warner saved at least 15-20 runs inside the ring.
Out-of-form Temba Bavuma played without being 100 per cent fit and looked shaky in the first over against Starc, eventually being out for a duck on four balls when he bowled a delivery behind the stumps.
The packed Eden crowd, dressed in de Kock’s jersey, was left disappointed as the team’s best batsman of the tournament, Quinton de Kock (3), succumbed to scoreboard pressure.
(With inputs from PTI)
Watch ICC World Cup: Australia defeated South Africa by 3 wickets in the second semi-final to set up a title clash with India.
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