Australia Defeats South Africa in Thriller to Set Up a World Cup Final Against India
Australia defeated South Africa in the second semifinal of the 2023 Cricket World Cup at the Eden Gardens on Thursday. With this thrilling last-over win, Australia set up a mouth-watering title clash against tournament hosts India.
Chasing 214, Australia prevailed by 5 wickets with just 2 balls to spare. They fended off a spirited challenge from the Proteas, who threatened to pull off an upset at multiple stages during the chase.
Australia reach the #CWC23 Final
South Africa’s semi-final pain goes on 😔
— ICC Cricket World Cup (@cricketworldcup) November 16, 2023
This will be Australia’s eighth World Cup final appearance. They have lifted cricket’s biggest prize a record five times previously: in 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2015.
Australia’s victory sets up a blockbuster final against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19. India have been dominant so far, winning all 10 matches. The final presents the opportunity for India to clinch their third World Cup trophy.
The last time these two cricketing heavyweights met in a World Cup final was in 2003. On that occasion, Ricky Ponting’s masterful 140 not out powered Australia to an emphatic victory over India at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Australia and India share a storied rivalry and have played out some epic encounters over the years. The World Cup final will be their third major title clash this calendar year. India got the better of Australia in the final of the T20 World Cup in February. A few months later, Australia won the World Test Championship in a thriller against India at the Oval.
Warner and Head Set Up Strong Platform Before South Africa Fightback
Australian openers David Warner and Travis Head raced out of the blocks in the big chase under gray skies. Warner cleared the ropes four times, smashing 29 runs off just 18 balls with a flurry of aggressive strokeplay.
However, his cameo was cut short by Aiden Markram in the 7th over. Australia lost their second wicket soon after when Kagiso Rabada dismissed Mitchell Marsh for a duck.
At 60/2 in the 8th over, Australia seemed to be cruising. But the Proteas fought back superbly, led by their spinners, Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi. With Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne struggling to rotate strikes, the required run rate started creeping up.
Some injudicious shots from Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell added to Australia’s problems. However, the experienced Steve Smith held firm with a patient 30 off 62 balls to lead Australia close to victory before his dismissal.
Despite a few hiccups, Australia had enough firepower in their deep batting lineup to knock off the runs required. South Africa’s total of 212 was just not enough, even though their bowlers came hard at the Aussies.
South Africa Implode After Opting To Bat As Bowlers Dominate
South Africa opted to bat first after winning the toss, hoping to avoid the pressure of chasing in a high-stakes knockout match. But their decision backfired badly as the Aussie pacers exploited the overcast conditions brilliantly to run through South Africa’s star-studded batting lineup.
Skipper Temba Bavuma’s wretched run of form in the tournament continued. He fell to Mitchell Starc for a 2-ball duck in the very first over of the inning. The early blow set the tone for South Africa’s abject batting capitulation.
Starc and Josh Hazlewood were virtually unplayable with the new ball, generating steep bounces and movements. Quinton de Kock, South Africa’s leading run-getter in the World Cup, was unable to get going and chopped a length ball from Hazlewood onto his stumps.
Aiden Markram, who smashed a 49-ball hundred against England earlier in the tournament, also struggled. He perished for 10 of 20 balls, caught behind off Starc’s bowling. Rassie van der Dussen, South Africa’s batting mainstay, could not make an impact either.
At 37/4 after 12 overs, South Africa were sinking fast before the counterattacking partnership between David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen offered them a lifeline.
Killer Miller’s Sensational Hundred in Vain
With South Africa reeling at 49/4, David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen came together to script a superb fightback for the Proteas. They decided to take the aggressive approach, taking down Australia’s lead spinner, Adam Zampa, who had been almost unhittable until that point.
Klaasen attacked Zampa for consecutive sixes, and the momentum started to swing South Africa’s way for the first time. The fifth-wicket pair added a quickfire 74 runs to rebuild the innings.
Just when it looked like South Africa was wrestling back control, Travis Head struck twice in the same over to dismiss Klaasen and Marco Jansen.
This meant David Miller had to change gears and accelerate. He unleashed a breathtaking array of strokes under pressure, bringing up a sensational hundred—one of the finest ever in a World Cup knockout.
Miller single-handedly hauled South Africa to a respectable 212 before falling as the last man on the final ball of the inning. Unfortunately for him and South Africa, his stellar knock only reduced the margin of defeat, not prevented it. But Miller’s extraordinary innings will be remembered for years to come.
In the end, South Africa were bowled out for 212 in 49.5 overs. Miller’s heroic hundred was in vain, as Australia’s superior depth and experience prevailed.
Fifth Straight Semi-Final Heartbreak for Proteas
The semifinal loss extended South Africa’s dreadful knockout record in ICC events. They have now lost five World Cup semifinals in a row (1992, 1999, 2007, 2015, and 2023).
On all five occasions, South Africa had the potential to win but failed to cross the finish line. This trend has earned them the tag of “chokers” in high-pressure matches.
Despite the heartbreaking exit, South Africa can take pride in their brilliant comeback after narrowly avoiding elimination in the first round. Miller and Klaasen’s fightback embodied the Proteas’ tenacious spirit.
For Australia, this was a record 7th World Cup final appearance. They reinforced their reputation as big-match players by prevailing in yet another thriller.
Australia’s victory sets up a mouthwatering ODI cricket finale against India, a fitting end to what has been a fantastic World Cup. With both teams undefeated until now, the final presents a battle between the tournament’s two best teams.
Given the scale of the rivalry between these two cricketing heavyweights, expect fireworks at the Narendra Modi Stadium on November 19!