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ICC World Cup: Australia Win Battle of Nerves Over South Africa, Enter Final

#SAvsAUS | Australia remained unflustered under unexpected duress to qualify for their eighth #WorldCup final.

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World Cup
2 min read
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Not many would have predicted it on 12 October – when Australia were languishing in the last positions of the 2023 ICC World Cup standings after two consecutive losses – but Pat Cummins’ team will be featuring in the grand finale, following their hard-fought three-wicket triumph over South Africa in the second semi-final, in Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.

Opting to bat first under a gloomy Kolkata sky which seemed to be in its grumpiest mood, South Africa could only score 212 runs. Yet, their bowlers did well to ensure the Aussies worked for every single run – which they ultimately did, and eventually accumulated 215 of those, at the loss of seven wickets, and in 47.2 overs.

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To add to the impending criticism of his decision at the toss, Temba Bavuma was dismissed for a duck in the very first over. His opening partner Quinton de Kock, who played his last ODI match today, could score only three runs before falling prey to a Josh Hazlewood delivery.

Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram combined to score 16 runs, but when it seemed South Africa were headed towards a collapse, a 95-run fifth-wicket stand between Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller brought the Proteas back into the game.

The former scored 47 runs before exposing his stumps to a Travis Head delivery, while the latter scored 101 runs, becoming the first-ever South African to score a century in an ODI World Cup knockout fixture.

Before they could flex their bowling muscles, pace pair Gerald Coetzee and Kagiso Rabada were asked to showcase their batting prowess, which they did by scoring 29 runs.

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No Smooth Sailing, but Australia Eventually Get to Shore

When Australian openers David Warner and Travis Head came out to bat, it did seem someone had pressed a switch somewhere in Kolkata to magically transform the pitch, with Hasan Raza present at the scene of action to document the procedure for his testimony.

They scored 60 runs inside the first six overs, but the wickets kept on tumbling after that. The Aussies lost five wickets in 77 runs, and despite Travis Head scoring 62, the game was hanging in balance at 137/5.
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Having played the sublime supporting act to Glenn Maxwell’s madness against Afghanistan, skipper Pat Cummins scored a crucial 14 here, while Mitchell Starc accumulated 16 runs.

With this victory, Australia have confirmed their place in the ICC World Cup final for the eighth occasion. But to be called six-time world champions, they will need to climb the seemingly insurmountable barrier of the Indian cricket team, at Ahmedabad on 19 November.

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