Australia advances to the ICC Men’s 50-Overs Cricket World Cup final

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Australia’s captain Pat Cummins (C) and Mitchell Starc (R) walk back to the pavilion after their win at the end of the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup one-day international (ODI) second semi-final match against South Africa at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on November 16, 2023. (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE — (Photo by DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia are through to the ICC Men’s 50-Overs Cricket World Cup final after a tension-filled three-wicket win over South Africa in Kolkata, India yesterday.

After dismissing South Africa for 212 off 49.4 overs, Australia made a flying start with Travis Head hitting 62 off 48 balls before they were pegged back by South Africa’s spinners and slipped to 137-5 off 23.4 overs.

Australia edged closer but lost their seventh wicket with 20 runs still needed and although the pressure continued to build, Cummins (14 not out) and Mitchell Starc (16 not out) kept their cool to complete a hard-fought victory with 16 balls to spare.

South Africa were reduced to 24-4 off 11.5 overs following superb new-ball bursts from fast bowler, Josh Hazlewood and Starc, before David Miller rescued the innings with a determined 101 from 116 balls.

But despite a valiant effort in the field, it wasn’t enough and Australia advanced to meet India in Sunday’s final in

Batting first in overcast conditions was a risk South Africa were willing to take given their previous success with that approach, but they were soon in trouble as Starc and Hazlewood tore through the top order.

Starc removed Temba Bavuma in the first over, Quinton de Kock fell to Hazlewood in the sixth and with Australia energised in the field, South Africa had just eight on the board after seven overs and were 18-2 at the end of the powerplay.

When Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen fell in successive overs, it was left to Miller and Heinrich Klaasen (47 off 48 balls) to salvage the innings and, either side of a 40-minute rain delay, the they did just that with a composed 95-run 5th wicket stand.

After Klaasen was dismissed, Miller kept going and reached his sixth One Day International hundred with his fifth sixth before being dismissed.

Head and David Warner looked like knocking the runs off in a hurry, adding 60 in the first six overs, and even when Warner was bowled by Markram, the runs kept coming for Australia.

South Africa’s seamers were taking some punishment and Head, dropped on 40, hit three consecutive boundaries to bring up his half-century.

The introduction of spin changed the game. Left-arm, leg-spinner, Keshav Maharaj bowled Head through the gate for 62 and leg-spinner, Tabraiz Shamsi accounted for Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell to take South Africa back into contention.

Josh Inglis and Steve Smith prevented a collapse but with the finish line in sight for Australia, Coetzee bounced out Smith and then bowled Inglis.

Starc and Cummins bid their time and more than seven overs went by before the Australia’s captain, Cummins cut fast bowler, Marco Jansen for four to seal the win.

The final scores: South Africa 212 off 49.4 overs, Australia 215-7 off 47.2 overs.