Cricket World Cup: South Africa outclassed by formidable Australia ...

19 days ago

In Kolkata, the City of Joy, South Africa's dreams of reaching their first World Cup final were crushed by a formidable Australia.

Cricket World Cup - Figure 1
Photo Sky Sports

It brought an end to South Africa's brilliant World Cup campaign, having failed to relieve themselves of a historical burden as they fell to their fifth World Cup semi-final defeat with Australia clinching victory by three wickets.

Australia had a nervy start to the tournament when they lost to hosts India and South Africa in their first two games, but since then the boys in gold and green have recovered remarkably well.

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Australia are a side that know when to apply pressure. During their fixture against Afghanistan they almost lost before Glenn Maxwell hit an astonishing double hundred that was described by skipper Pat Cummins as "the greatest ODI innings that has ever happened."

It was Travis Head who stole the limelight against South Africa on Thursday, smashing a 40-ball half-century and finished with figures of 2-21.

"It was an amazing game, it's hard to unpack all of that," Head said after being awarded Player of the Match.

"We knew how we were going to play and how we were going to adapt to the wicket, we haven't seen a pitch spin like that before."

Image: Australia's Travis Head raises his bat as he celebrates after a 40-ball fifty against South Africa

Head broke his left hand while trying to pull Gerald Coetzee during the ODI series against South Africa just before the World Cup and was a doubt for the tournament.

"I thought I wasn't going to be here, I just want to contribute for Australia and I'm always keen to have a bowl," Head added.

"I'm disappointed to get out the way I did, but it wasn't meant to be. We've always had a positive approach as a team."

But, having already lost to tournament hosts and favourites, will Australia be able to come out on top against India when it means the most?

If Australia look formidable, India look invincible. It's hard to fault their performance throughout the tournament as they are yet to lose a game and it will take something special to beat them.

India slipped to 2-3 by the second over in their first World Cup encounter but Virat Kohli (85) and KL Rahul (97no) put on a spectacular performance to rescue their side and beat Australia by six wickets last month.

'De Kock is a legend of the game'

Ahead of the World Cup, South Africa's wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock announced he would retire from one-day cricket at the end of the tournament. He has captained the Proteas in all three formats and made his ODI debut in 2013.

South Africa's skipper Temba Bavuma praised De Kock, who has amassed 594 runs in this tournament alone.

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Pat Cummins took a superb tumbling catch as Quinton de Kock fell for just three in the second Cricket World Cup semi-final

"He has had an outstanding tournament. He would've liked to end things on a different note but he'll remember the fight we showed as a team," Bavuma said.

"We've enjoyed playing with him through the years. In South Africa, he'll go down as a legend of the game."

South Africa fought back hard after losing both Bavuma (0) and De Kock (3) within the powerplay before slipping to 24-4 early on.

David Miller (101) struck a magnificent century to guide his side to a respectable total but South Africa struggled against Mitchell Starc (3-34) and Cummins (3-51) who removed their big hitters.

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Pat Cummins struck the winning runs as Australia beat South Africa by three wickets to reach an eighth Cricket World Cup final

"It's hard to put into words. Congratulations to Australia and all the best to them for the final. They were outstanding for a large part of the game and they deserve the victory," Bavuma said.

"Our character came through and our resilience. Looking at the result of the game, the way we started with the bat and the ball wasn't good. We always had to play catch up to get back into the game.

"The conditions combined with the quality of the attack put us under pressure."

What's next?

Australia will now join unbeaten tournament hosts India in Ahmedabad at the Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday, November 19 as both teams battle it out to be crowned Cricket World Cup champions.

Build-up begins at 7.30am on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event ahead of the first ball at 8.30am. You can also watch Hindi coverage of the match on Sky Sports Arena from 8.20am. Stream the Cricket World Cup and more top sport with NOW

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