It was close, but not close enough for the South Africans—another heartbreak for the Proteas. Australia is invincible once again during the knockout stage. The Australian pace bowling finally made inroads during the powerplay. There were some nervous moments for the Aussies, but eventually, they were too good for the South Africans. The men in yellow have secured participation in their 5th final in 7 tournaments with a convincing performance at Eden Gardens in front of a packed crowd. The mighty Aussies have done it again in the biggest of stages. However, they will have the nearly impossible task of defeating the red-hot Indians in the final on Sunday.
Australia made two changes to the team that demolished Bangladesh in the last game of the group stage. Glenn Maxwell was back to the side for the first time after his superhuman innings against Afghanistan. Marcus Stoinis dropped to the bench to accommodate him. There was much discussion about the choice between Labuschagne and Stoinis. The right-handed batsman is preferred to the burly all-rounder. Mitchell Starc has had a lacklustre World Cup up to this stage. But the Australian management showed faith in their experienced pacer to swing the new ball. Despite his persistent struggle, Josh Inglis is still preferred to Alex Carey.
South Africans also made two changes to their team that managed a hard-earned victory against Afghanistan. Lungi Ngidi has had an ordinary World Cup with the ball. Gerald Coetzee has got 18 wickets in this tournament; he took Ngidi’s place in the team. Andile Phelukwayo performed well with the bat in the second innings. But the impact of Marco Jansen has been immense for the Proteas. He is fresh again after a well-earned rest in the last game.
- Travis Head 2. David Warner 3. Mitchell Marsh 4. Steve Smith 5. Marnus Labuschagne 6. Glenn Maxwell 7. Josh Inglis (WK) 8. Pat Cummins (Cap.) 9. Mitchell Starc 10. Adam Zampa 11. Josh Hazlewood
- Temba Bavuma (Cap.) 2. Quinton de Kock (WK) 3. Rassie van der Dussen 4. Aiden Markram 5. Heinrich Klaasen 6. David Miller 7. Marco Jansen 8. Keshav Maharaj 9. Gerald Coetzee 10. Kagiso Rabada 11. Tabraiz Shamsi
South African skipper Temba Bavuma won the coin toss and elected to bat first under overcast conditions. There was a huge possibility of rain on both the game and reserve day. The black soil-based track at Eden Gardens presents an ideal condition for the spinners to get some turns. The pitch has been known for its slow nature, so it will be a challenge for the opening batters to time the ball well against the pacers early on. The cloudy weather would assist the pace bowlers in finding movement with the new ball.
The average first innings total in Kolkata is 244, and the average second innings total is 199. So, the toss is a huge deciding factor in the course of the match. Out of the 39 matches played at this ground, the team batting first has clinched 23 victories, whereas the teams batting second have won on 15 occasions. The last game saw England posting a huge total of 337 runs on the back of a Stokes century. South Africa has played once at this ground in this tournament; they got all out at the score of 83 as Indians waltzed to victory by 243 runs. So, spin will be a key factor that can ultimately decide the fate of the game.
Australia and South Africa have clashed in 109 matches over the years in ODI format. South Africa have the upper hand with 55 victories to Australia’s 50. In neutral venues, Australia has won 9 games, and South Africa secured 8 victories. One match ended with no result. One of the 3 tie matches was the famous 1999 semi-final tie that ended with Alan Donald getting tragically run out to miss out on a place in the final. The teams have been involved in many memorable encounters throughout the history of cricket.
Australia and South Africa have faced each other on 7 occasions in ODI World Cups. The ratio of wins is perfectly balanced, with 3 wins for each side. The last side these sides met in the group game was back in Lucknow last month. South Africa handed Australia their second defeat of the tournament by beating them by a huge margin of 134 runs. Australia has then gone on to secure 7 victories in succession to qualify for the semi-finals. South Africa secured second place with the same number of points. Apart from a shock defeat against the Dutch, the Africans have played an aggressive brand of cricket to brush away their opponents.
|Venue||The 47th and penultimate match of the 2023 World Cup was held in the famous Eden Gardens ground in Kolkata, West Bengal.|
|Date||The game started at 02:00 p.m. IST onwards on Thursday, November 16.|
Captaincy & Tactics
South Africa fell short of breaking through the semi-final barrier at the World Cup yet again. Despite a sparkling sporting year for the country and various accomplishments, their cricket team’s journey has been riddled with challenges and missed opportunities. From past administrative meltdowns and coaching changes to near bankruptcy and stability issues, South Africa’s ODI World Cup campaign showcases its resilience. Although they showcased remarkable batting performances and their bowlers fought valiantly, it ultimately concluded with a bittersweet flavour. Let’s delve into the series of events and key moments that defined South Africa’s campaign.
Captain Temba Bavuma’s decision to bat first after winning the toss may be questioned in hindsight. However, the historical statistics favoured batting first at the venue, with 13 out of 20 teams choosing to bat first and emerging victoriously, including all three matches at this World Cup. Moreover, South Africa had found success batting first in the tournament before this game, winning ten out of 11 matches. Although the conditions were cloudier and moister on this particular day, Bavuma’s choice was rational, considering South Africa’s shaky record while chasing and the intention of Australian captain Pat Cummins to bat first as well. Perhaps it was just a good toss to lose for Cummins.
While questions may arise about Bavuma’s decision at the toss, it was not his decision alone to play in the match. Despite expressing his partial fitness, Bavuma had to be declared match-fit by the medical team to earn a spot in the starting XI. Coach Rob Walter stood firmly behind his captain, believing in his leadership and on-field presence. Ultimately, Bavuma’s hamstring injury did not play a role in his early dismissal, as he fell victim to a good delivery that nipped away, resulting in a fourth-ball duck.
With the top four batsmen failing to make an impact, the responsibility fell on the shoulders of Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller. Coming together at a precarious 24 for 4, they showcased resilience and rebuilt the innings for South Africa. They adjusted after a rain delay and adopted a cautious approach, focusing on finding boundaries only when confident. While Klaasen lost his momentum, Miller played a career-defining innings, forming crucial partnerships with lower-order batsmen. It had been five years since his last ODI century, and Miller’s bravery provided South Africa with a chance to compete.
The Australian pace bowlers were back in their groove by hitting the perfect line and length. Josh Hazlewood’s consistent accuracy reminded me of the great Glenn Mcgrath, with 90% deliveries in his first spell pitching on the good length. Mitchell Starc kept swinging the ball into the right-handers, asking questions that were left unanswered on most occasions. Australia’s failure to take early wickets during the powerplay has been a constant problem for them; this time, they took 2 wickets and restricted the opponents to a meagre total of 28 runs.
In a remarkable twist, South Africa’s traditionally pace-reliant attack found success through spin. On a turning surface, Aiden Markram and Keshav Maharaj made immediate impacts with early wickets, igniting hope for South Africa. However, missed opportunities in the field began to haunt them. A drop catch off Gerald Coetzee’s first delivery proved costly, leading to an expensive over.
With Kagiso Rabada off the field due to injury, the pressure mounted, and although Coetzee fought back admirably, his efforts fell short of securing victory. Coetzee’s outstanding performance further cemented his status as South Africa’s most successful bowler at the World Cup, adding a bittersweet note to their campaign.
South Africa scored only 18 runs from the first 10 overs, the second-lowest total by a side during the power plays at this World Cup. Temba Bavuma failed once again with the bat, and Quinton de Kock quickly followed after persisting for only 13 balls. There were lots of false shots and near misses as Starc and Hazlewood got the ball moving early on.
With the match delicately poised, Australia required 19 runs to win, with South Africa creating more chances. However, missed opportunities, including a tough catch and injured key player Kagiso Rabada’s absence, worked in Australia’s favour as they clinched victory. Australia’s disciplined bowling, led by Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, set the tone early in the match, showcasing high-class planning and execution. Hazlewood’s accuracy and seam movement troubled the South African batsmen, and Starc’s early dismissal of South Africa’s captain added further pressure. Eventually, Australia emerged triumphant, securing a spot in their eighth men’s ODI World Cup final.
With the match delicately poised, Australia required 19 runs to win. South Africa created several chances to tighten their grip on the match. Mitchell Starc nicked one delivery, but the absence of a slip fielder spared him. Pat Cummins attempted a scoop shot towards short midwicket, but the ball fell agonizingly short of a diving David Miller. Additionally, Quinton de Kock, who is no longer an active ODI cricketer after the conclusion of the match, dropped a difficult catch behind the wickets when the target was just nine runs away. These missed opportunities added to the nail-biting climax of the match. Under ordinary circumstances, the fiery pace bowler Kagiso Rabada would have been leading the attack at this decisive stage, but he was restricted due to a bruised heel.
Travis Head is making up for lost time after missing out on the first six games due to a broken hand suffered in the last South African tour. Head is the only opener in history who averaged 50+ at a strike rate of 110+ while opening the innings. Head was living dangerously, but his blistering innings put the Australian noses ahead. Apart from his typical cut shots, he also hit the ball hard with horizontal bat shots that brought him boundaries regularly. Travis Head will be instrumental if the Australians are to topple the hosts in the final game at Ahmedabad.
Patrick Cummins was the unsung hero against Afghanistan as Maxwell took all the limelight. The Aussie skipper played another important innings with the bat when his country needed it most. The 29-ball unbeaten stay that yielded 14 runs made sure Australia would clinch victory from a much more uncomfortable situation than it needed to be. Mitchell Starc changed his usual aggressive style to score 38 off 16 balls. The pair made 22 runs for the eighth wicket partnership.
Josh Inglis has been under scrutiny for his off form with the bat. The English-born wicketkeeper-batsman has been keeping the more experienced Alex Carey out of the Australian team. A score of 28 from 49 balls might not be much, but in a low-scoring game, this proved to be an innings of great significance. Marnus Labuschagne got out after playing a reckless reverse sweep; his dismissal put Australians in a tricky situation with 80 runs to get. Steve Smith was patient against the spin; his presence was giving assurance to the Aussie fans. However, in an uncharacteristically wild swing, Smith was snared perfectly by Gerald Coetzee.
South Africa’s innings didn’t begin as expected, with the team recording their lowest 10-over score in 15 years of ODI cricket, reeling at 18 for 2. However, the resilient David Miller held firm, mustering an unbeaten 101 from his end. While his teammates faltered, the middle order collapsed to 100 for 9, leaving Miller as the lone warrior. South Africa’s chances appeared bleak as they struggled to find boundaries in the chase, taking 52 balls to hit their first one. However, the entry of Josh Inglis turned the tide, as the young batsman played a composed innings, showcasing control over 89% of the balls he faced. His crucial knock brought South Africa back into the game as half of the required score vanished by the 15th over.
Adam Zampa had an off day with the ball, but the pace trio made up for the misfiring leg spinner. Starc bowled with a lot of pace, regularly getting past the 145+ mark. The swing and bounce generated by Josh Hazlewood troubled the Proteas batsman persistently. Pat Cummins went 8+ per over in the beginning but eventually came back strongly in the death overs. The pace bowlers 8 of the 10 Protea wickets, bringing the nostalgic memories of Australia’s golden past.
The pressure of knockout matches seemed to haunt both teams as moments of brilliance and missed opportunities unfolded at Eden Gardens. South Africa’s spinners, led by Shamsi, dismissed key Australian batsmen, silencing the ghosts of past knockouts. Maxwell could not repeat his heroics from the Afghanistan game, getting out after trying to clear Shamsi over midwicket. The wicket ensued a wild celebration by Shamsi since Australia was rocked back after losing an inspirational player.
However, Josh Inglis’ calm composure and Steven Smith’s steady presence rejuvenated Australia’s innings. Yet, it was Gerald Coetzee who resurrected South Africa’s hopes, taking crucial wickets, including an impressive dismissal of Smith through smart bowling tactics. Coetzee’s contribution, despite limited prior experience, highlighted his value as South Africa’s highest wicket-taker in the tournament. He took the mantle of pace bowling after his senior colleagues failed to make an impact in a pace-friendly condition.
Gerald Coetzee emerged as a crucial player, showcasing his value and skill set despite having played only four ODIs before the tournament. Coetzee’s ability to generate pace and hit the deck during the middle overs proved to be invaluable for the South African team, making him their highest wicket-taker with an impressive tally of 20 scalps. He was suffering slightly from a debilitating cramp but fought valiantly for his country nonetheless.
In a crucial spell, Coetzee outsmarted Steven Smith and dismantled Josh Inglis, exposing Australia’s tail and setting up South Africa for a thrilling victory. However, a series of missed chances added to the excitement, with South Africa still having 19 runs to defend while bowling against the Australian tail. The spinners were able to find purchase from the wicket with the ball turning both ways.
During an intense eight-over spell, Coetzee was entrusted with the task of targeting the batsmen with aggressive deliveries. Maintaining a searing pace of 150 in challenging conditions required tremendous effort and skill. Coetzee rose to the occasion by outsmarting the highly skilled Steven Smith, deceiving him with a wide-length delivery when he expected a bouncer, resulting in a crucial catch. He then bulldozed through Josh Inglis, delivering a pinpoint yorker that crashed into the stumps despite the batsman managing to make contact. Coetzee’s remarkable performances throughout the tournament have made a significant impact on South Africa’s bowling attack.
The Australians were electric in the field. David Warner rolled back the years with athleticism and pace. He saved several boundaries by diving sideways. The veteran Aussie opener also took a sharp catch to dismiss Aiden Markram at backward point. Patrick Cummins took a fantastic grab while backpedalling to dismiss Quinton de Kock. Travis Head caught David Miller on the boundary to send the left-hander back after a stunning innings. Glenn Maxwell also joined the show with a stunning catch to dismiss Kagiso Rabada. Overall, it was a vintage Australian fielding performance by a team that looked determined to reach the final. The 20-30 runs saved in the field eventually turned out to be a deciding factor in the Aussie victory. On a wet outfield, it is never easy to judge the flight and bounce of the ball properly. But the Australians adapted to the conditions perfectly by putting in a fantastic collective effort.
Heinrich Klaasen pulled off a stunner to dismiss Mitchell Marsh early on. But his teammates were feeling the pressure and missed numerous catching opportunities. Quinton de Kock had a miserable last day as an international cricketer. He missed two sharp chances to dismiss Steve Smith and Pat Cummins at crucial stages of the game. Bavuma and Reeza Hendrick also spilled chances. The South African semi-final curse was back once again, and they failed to turn up to restrict their opponent within the intended target. The nerves were on show as history repeated itself in the favour of the Australians.
David Miller scored the sixth ODI century of his career, his third against the Aussies, to help his side post a fighting total against a formidable side. The southpaw aggressive batsman charged a counterattack against a quality bowling attack and scored 101 from 116 balls. Heinrich Klaasen was the only other batsman to get some runs, scoring 47 from 48 deliveries.
Mitchell Starc was finally able to get some movement with the new ball under overcast conditions. He finished the day with 3 wickets for 34 runs. Pat Cummins also claimed three scalps, but he was expensive by giving away 51 runs from 9.4 overs. Josh Hazlewood was almost unplayable in his spell of 8 overs that conceded just 12 runs at 1.5 runs per over. He picked up two important wickets of Quinton de Kock and Rassie van der Dussen. Travis Head fulfilled his duty as a part-timer by getting 2 wickets from 5 overs.
Travis Head missed out in the last two games after scoring a century in his World Cup debut against New Zealand. He raced to 62 from just 47 deliveries before getting his stumps rocked by a beauty from Keshav Maharaj. Steve Smith scored a hard-fought 30 runs from 62 balls to give some momentum during the middle overs. Josh Inglis scored 28 runs off 49 balls to get Australia close to the target.
Mitchell Starc’s 16 and Pat Cummins’s 14 made sure Australia got past the victory line. Tabraiz Shamsi was the pick of the Proteas bowler with 42 runs from 10 overs and two wickets. Gerald Coetzee bowled with a lot of pace and verve and claimed a couple of scalps. Keshav Maharaj was parsimonious with only 24 runs from 10 overs and produced a wonderful delivery to dismiss Head.
After the early struggles, David Miller steadied the ship with Heinrich Klaasen on the other end. The pair launched a counterattack on the Australian bowlers, with Adam Zampa being targeted specifically. The stand between the batters accumulated 95 in quick time to help South Africa back in the game. Pat Cummins had seen enough, and he decided to give the ball to his part-time off-spinner, Travis Head. The track was helping the spinners to get a good amount of turn and grip.
The wicket was turning, and the footmarks in front of the batter were proving to be a nightmare for the batting side. Travis Head bowled the fourth ball of the 31st over just outside the off stump. Heinrich Klaasen played for the turn, but it was not there. He missed the ball completely, and it went to dismantle the stumps. Finally, it was a much-needed breakthrough for the Aussies.
Marco Jansen, who has been impressing with the bat, came to the crease next. The first ball he faced was pitched on the same spot as Klaasen. But this one took a devilish turn, 4.5 degrees to be exact. The ball struck the pads, and the umpire raised his finger accordingly. Two wickets in two balls changed the whole complexion of the game dramatically. South Africa looked to be on course for a 250+ score, but they ended up with 212.
Australia returned to the World Cup final after 8 years with a victory over South Africa by 3 wickets with 16 balls to spare. This is Australia’s 6th semi-final win out of 8 attempts at the World Cups.
Player of the Match
For his bombastic innings of 62 runs from 48 balls and 2 2-wicket hauls with the ball, Travis Head was adjudged as the best player of the match. The batting all-rounder showed his mettle after suffering a broken hand back in September.
|South Africa Total: 212/10 (49.4 overs)||Australia Total: 215/7 (47.2 overs)|
|David Miller 101 (116)||Travis Head 62 (48)|
|Heinrich Klaasen 47 (48)||Steve Smith 30 (62)|
|Mitchell Starc 3/34||Tabraiz Shamsi 2/42 (10 overs)|
|Patrick Cummins 3/51||Gerald Coetzee 2/47 (9 overs)|
It would take an impeccable collective performance to outplay an unbelievable Indian side that looked unbeatable throughout the tournament. But the World Cup pedigree of the Australians will be a cause of concern for the invincible Indian team. After suffering losses in the two opening games, the Australians have hit form just at the right time to bag 8 wins in a row and reach the final. Will it be a 3rd World Cup title for the men in blue? Or is it another trophy for the mighty Aussies? The answer awaits on Sunday at Narendra Modi Stadium as the biggest tournament in the ODI format draws to its resolution after 47 games of twists and thrills.