South Africa beat Australia in the semi-finals, repeating their memorable victory in Birmingham 24 years ago. However, South Africa’s familiar repertoire of errors once again kept them out of the World Cup final, while Australia reached the final for the eighth time.
Australia’s never-say-die attitude and perseverance proved decisive as they won by three wickets with 16 balls to spare and booked flights to Ahmedabad for Sunday’s final against India.
With conditions in the first half conducive to a quick-fire attack, South Africa opted to bat first after winning the toss but held on to just 213 balls and kept missing out at crucial moments.
Australia suffered a similar fate to South Africa in the 1999 semi-final when the winning target was 214. Australia’s fast bowlers – Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and captain Pat Cummins – took most of the three-post wickets, while Travis Head took a few. South Africa were again in trouble after centurions David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen tried to save the day with their 95-run fifth bat.
South Africa were still in the game despite the brilliance of openers David Warner and Hyde with both ball and bat, blasting 60 runs in the first six overs. Rassie van der Dussen gave South Africa some hope when she took a brilliant catch at extra cover after Aiden Markram had struck Warner out.
But in the 12th over, when the score stood at 77/2, substitute Reeza Hendricks released Hyde in the clear and the left-handed bowler then added insult to injury with three boundaries.
As if the 40th-inning release wasn’t enough, Hyde was given a second lease on life in the 57th when Klaasen slipped under Tabraiz Shamsi. Certainly credit goes to the young Kutcher, who, unlike Kagiso Rabada and Marco Jansen, gave it his all on the almost inch-perfect track at Eden Gardens, and to the left-arm spinning duo of Keshav Maharaj and Shamsi, who The perfect chink bowling put Maxwell in a clean sweep and put the pressure back on the Aussies.
Captain Temba Bavuma was expected to come in to bat again and had he taken Maharaj earlier, the ball would have spun more as the match progressed …….
Towards the end of the match, a young man from the ‘D’ section barged onto the pitch and posed for a photo with Miller. The lefty certainly deserves some fans, considering how well he’s played against the odds.
But for now, Miller can only sit back and reflect, thanks to a lack of application, poor catching and bad decisions by his colleagues.