Australia see off South Africa to set up World Cup final showdown with India
Australia will take on India in Sunday’s World Cup final after edging South Africa in a nerve-wracking semi-final at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
The five-time winners will face the all-conquering hosts in Ahmedabad following a tense three-wicket win against the Proteas, who fought back hard after a calamitous start with the bat.
Captain Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc were the key figures in dragging Australia through, taking three wickets apiece in a pace bowling exhibition then coming together with bats in hand to negotiate a decisive eighth-wicket stand at the death.
South Africa had bossed this fixture a month ago in the group stages, winning by a huge 134-run margin, but appeared to be leaning into the reputation as knockout ‘chokers’ when they slumped to 24 for four in less than 12 overs.
A brilliant, defiant 101 from David Miller lifted the gloom and gave his side a total of 212 to bowl at before a wearing pitch offered enough encouragement to push Australia close.
Opener Travis Head carved 62 off the target at the top of the innings, but wickets fell regularly, with spin playing a major role, to leave a tricky path to the finish line.
Gerald Coetzee dismissed Steve Smith (30) and Josh Inglis (28) to leave Australia relying on their lower order, with Cummins and Starc up to the mark.
They put on 22 in 46 painstaking deliveries, with Cummins dropped by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock with nine still needed before slashing the winning boundary behind point.
Australia will now head to their eighth World Cup final, looking to upset an India team with a 100 percent record at their own tournament in a repeat of the 2003 showpiece.
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