Welcome to news.com.au’s live blog of the Cricket World Cup semi-final between Australia and South Africa from Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
Australia have romped into the semi-finals on the back of seven straight wins and have set themselves for a real shot at the trophy.
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But one of the teams to defeat Australia in the tournament so far is South Africa, who trounced Australia by 134 runs.
The thing going for Australia is a stellar record when it matters most, while South Africa have long been haunted by the ghosts of the past, including the thrilling 1999 World Cup Final where they drew with Australia in one of the wildest games of cricket ever seen.
But it’s knockout cricket and anything can happen. And for the winner, India awaits.
1.08am — Travis Head stealing the show
Travis Head has flown to 54 off 41 balls, thrashing three straight fours of Gerald Coetzee.
After 12 overs, Australia are 2/92, although he’s riding his luck.
Head was dropped on the point boundary after Reeza Hendricks put down a tough, low catch in the deep.
The following ball, he crushed a flat bat shot straight back at the bowler, only for it to just miss the bowler’s hands.
Head looks in a mood right now and has already almost got Australia halfway to their total.
12.53am — And now we have a game
Just like that, the match is wide open again.
Australia have lost 2/1 as Mitch Marsh followed David Warner for a six-ball duck.
Marsh slashed a ball through cover, only for Rassie van der Dussen to take a screamer, diving to his right.
12.42am — ‘Disastrous’: Australia go berserk
South Africa needed to follow Australia’s lead with powerplay wickets but it’s not going to plan.
After 10 overs, Australia had South Africa 2/19 off 10 overs.
After six, Australia are 0/60.
It all went wrong in the sixth over when Kagiso Rabada went for 21 runs.
It included a no ball that went for six. And the free hit also went for six.
Matthew Hayden called it “disastrous”.
But South Africa have finally struck with Aiden Markram bowling David Warner for 29 off 18.
It’s not over yet but South Africa will need more of that.
12am — South Africa 212 all out
South Africa have set a total on the back of David Miller’s 101 off 119 balls, tallying 212 off 49.4 overs.
Eerily, it nearly mirrors their — and Australia’s — score in the 1999 World Cup semi-final, where the Aussies scored 213, before bowling South Africa out for 213 — after 49.4 overs — to send Australia through to the World Cup Final.
24 years later, Australia are chasing, and a tie won’t be enough for either side.
If there’s a tie in the 2023 tournament, it will result in a Super Over, rather than sending the side who had won earlier in the tournament, much to South Africa’s chagrin.
But it was a stellar performance with the ball from Australia, with Josh Hazlewood finishing with 2/12 off eight overs with three maidens, Mitchell Starc going 3/34 off his 10, Pat Cummins 3/51 off 9.4 and Travis Head taking 2/21 in five overs, including two in two balls in his first over.
Glenn Maxwell was also very tidy — going 0/4 off his first three overs before finishing at 0/35.
Only Adam Zampa really copped some stick, going for 0/55 off his seven overs as the left-handed Miller teed off on him.
11.33pm — Well done David Miller
South Africa’s David Miller has hit a famous century to give his nation some hope against Australia.
Bringing up his hundred in the 48th over.
It was a brilliant innings after coming to the crease at 4/24, and is the highest score from a batter six or below against Australia at a World Cup.
But after a wide, the next ball, Miller didn’t quite get the next pull, hitting it straight to Travis Head on the boundary for a brilliant 101 off 119 balls.
11.11pm — Coetzee wasn’t out
Pat Cummins picked up his first wicket of the match — but it should have been out.
Australia would have been happy if Gerald Coetzee stayed out there considering he was 19 off 39 balls, but Cummins took the wicket with a wicked short ball that convinced the umpire it had caught the glove.
But the replays showed that it brushed his arm on the way through.
While Coetzee didn’t look sold, he didn’t call for the DRS review, even though it surely would have saved him.
At the end of the day, the big wicket is David Miller, who has almost single-handedly saved South Africa’s innings.
10.26pm — Travis Head tears South Africa apart
Adam Zampa has been getting a fair bit of stick from the South Africans but part-timer Travis Head has proven a game-changer, taking two wickets in successive balls.
After steadying the ship with a 95-run stand with David Miller, Heinrich Klaasen was clean bowled by Head for 47 off 48 balls.
The following ball, he trapped Marco Jansen LBW.
The third ball was about as good a hattrick ball as you’d want to bowl, darting the ball in at the stumps with Gerald Coetzee just keeping it out.
The following over, Miller brought up his 50 with a four, but the South Africans are in deep trouble at 6/125 after 32 overs.
10.04pm — South Africa steady
The rain has appeared to settle the game down somewhat as South Africa have steadied through Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller.
The pair have put on 55 to the 25th over as South Africa struggled to 4/79.
But crucially, the Proteas haven’t lost any wickets.
At the rain break, Kerry O’Keeffe suggested another two wickets and the game was as good as over, not believing the South African lower order had much to offer.
Ricky Ponting also said the pitch had appeared to calm down, which may not be completely good news for the Proteas, especially if the rain stays away.
9.24pm — And we’re back …
That wasn’t too bad a break and no time has been lost — play on.
8.43pm — Only thing that can stop Australia strikes
Australia appeared destined for the World Cup Final after that start, and it looked like it would take an act of God to stop them.
Well, that’s what South Africa have got.
It’s raining in Kolkata.
While it’s not that hard at the moment, it shows that Australia has its work cut out for it, and they need more wickets — and quick.
Although no one looks that worried by it, and the fans are still dancing in the stands, it will be constant worry for Australia.
At least 20 overs each will need to be completed to constitute a match, and there is a wet weather contingency day tomorrow, although the forecast is even worse.
If there is no result, South Africa will go through to the World Cup Final to play India, after finishing the group stages with a superior run rate over Australia.
After 14 overs, South Africa are 4/44.
8.28pm — What is happening?!?
South Africa are four down now after Rassie van der Dussen was out edging to Steve Smith at second slip for a 31-ball 6.
It’s utter madness at Kolkata and just some bloody brilliant bowling from the Aussie bowlers.
“Relentless bowling from Hazlewood, backed up beautifully in the field once again,” Ricky Ponting said in commentary.
“Very, very safe hands of Steve Smith at second slip. Van der Dussen couldn’t get the ball through the field.
“This is big trouble now for South Africa.”
8.22pm — South Africa three down
What a start from Australia.
Aiden Markram is back in the sheds after slicing Mitchell Starc to David Warner at gully for 10.
It’s been an incredible start for Australia, who now have South Africa 3/22.
Nasser Hussain said in commentary: “They’re in real trouble here South Africa at the start of this second semi-final at Kolkata.
“Bavuma opted to bat first and the top order have been held under lock and key by some brilliant Australia bowling and ground fielding.”
8.20pm — South Africa hit first boundary
This wouldn’t usually be a point in a blog but it’s taken 52 balls for South Africa to hit their first four of the match, with Aiden Markram slamming a ball over the boundary for four.
This has been pure insanity from Australia.
Australia has South Africa 2/18 off the first 10 overs.
In commentary, Shane Watson said that conventional wisdom is that the wicket would be dry and a batters paradise.
7.56pm — Australia are on fire
The commentators have been talking about Australia taking wickets in the powerplay — well they’ve saved that for the most important time in the World Cup.
Australia has South Africa 2/8 off 5.4 overs after Quinton de Kock skied a ball off Josh Hazlewood, with captain Pat Cummins taking the catch as the ball came down from the stratosphere.
Australia are all over the South Africans, who, remember, won the toss.
It’s a brutal start for Australia, who have not conceded a four so far in the opening six over of the match.
7.35pm — Australia’s perfect start
Mitchell Starc has done it again.
The Aussie quick may not have had the best tournament, but he has delivered in the first over of the match, drawing the edge of South African captain Temba Bavuma with the sixth ball of the match.
The ball is doing plenty for the Aussies and it’s been tough going for the Proteas.
7.10pm — Australia lose toss, make brutal call
Australia has lost the toss and will bowl first in Kolkata, with the weather around the ground setting a chaotic scene for the match.
If overs are lost later in the match, Australia could be facing reduced overs and a reduced run total, but at a higher run rate.
But Australia has had to make a brutal call, leaving out Marcus Stoinis for the semi-final, despite his ability to blast the ball around the field.
With Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Starc coming into the team for Stoinis and Sean Abbott, it means Marnus Labuschagne has retained his spot.
Although Labuschagne has had the superior performance in the World Cup, his strike rate is down compared to Stoinis.
Weather was seen as the one scenario that could save Stoinis spot, even though the all-rounder hasn’t fired in the World Cup but even that hasn’t been able to do it.
Originally published as Cricket World Cup 2023, Australia Vs South Africa live: ’Masterstroke’ leaves Proteas in ruins