Australia have set-up a 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup final title clash with India after beating South Africa by three wickets in a tense semi-final at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
Travis Head top-scored with 62, before Steven Smith (30), Josh Inglis (28), Mitchell Starc (16 not out) and captain Pat Cummins (14 not out) thwarted the valiant challenge from South Africa to march into their eighth Men’s ODI World Cup final, where they will take on India in a replay of the 2003 edition finale.
South Africa’s spinners asked all sorts of questions but they failed to latch on their chances which were created by the bowlers. Australia’s efforts meant David Miller’s gritty century went in vain.
Chasing 213, Travis Head and David Warner were off to a flying start by hitting two boundaries each in the first four overs. The duo then took 15 runs off Marco Jansen in the fifth over, including two fours and a six, to keep Australia going.
Warner tore into Kagiso Rabada in the next over, hitting him for three sixes, including lapping him over backward square leg for six on the free-hit delivery. But Aiden Markram struck on his first ball of the night by castling Warner. Mitchell Marsh was sent back for a six-ball duck by Rabada as Rassie van der Dussen made a full dive to take a blinder of a catch.
Head had a reprieve when substitute Reeza Hendricks dropped his catch at deep point off Gerald Coetzee, who was hit for two fours by the left-handed batter. Head would get his fifty by pulling Coetzee for four and had another life when Heinrich Klassen couldn’t hang on to a tough chance at slip-off Tabraiz Shamsi.
Keshav Maharaj, the top-ranked ODI bowler, struck on his very first ball by turning enough to castle Maharaj through the gate. Marnus Labuschagne survived an lbw appeal off Shamsi, but replays showed umpire’s call on impact despite ball hitting the stumps. It was Smith’s turn to get a reprieve when Quinton de Kock dropped a tough chance off Shamsi.
But Shamsi eventually got Labuschagne when the right-handed batter was trapped lbw on a reverse-sweep against a delivery which turned in sharply and review showed the ball was clipping leg stump. Shamsi came back to knock off Glenn Maxwell’s leg-stump with a quicker delivery, a dismissal which reminded many of the way Kuldeep Yadav took the batter out in Chennai.
Smith and Inglis hanged around to hit three boundaries between themselves, but the former after playing an uncharacteristic hoick on a short ball and was caught by de Kock off Coetzee. With his crouched stance and low backlift, Inglis hanged around with Starc before being castled by a straight delivery from Coetzee.
South Africa fought hard, but burnt their second review when Coetzee trapped Cummins in front of stumps, but replays showed ball pitching outside leg. There was more tension when Markram created a half-chance and dismissal chance, but Bavuma and de Kock couldn’t latch on to it. Starc whipped through mid-wicket off Jansen for four, before Cummins finished off the tense chase with a steer past backward point for a boundary.
Brief Scores: South Africa 212 in 49.4 overs (David Miller 101, Heinrich Klaasen 47; Mitchell Starc 3-34, Pat Cummins 3-51) lost to Australia 215/7 in 47.2 overs (Travis Head 62, Steven Smith 30; Tabraiz Shamsi 2-42, Gerald Coetzee 2-47) by three wickets