It’s the eighth Cricket World Cup final for Australia.
Pat Cummins made sure his team didn’t let the opportunity slip away in a low-scoring run-chase against South Africa in the semifinals on Thursday.
The captain had to bail out his team with the bat as he and Mitchell Starc got the Aussies home by three wickets in pursuit of a 213-run target.
“Nerve-wracking couple of hours but great effort and a great game,” Cummins said after scoring unbeaten 14 off 29 balls.
The scrappy South Africa fielding helped Cummins’ cause and now they have a crack at what would be a record-extending sixth World Cup trophy when they face host India in Sunday’s final at Ahmedabad.
Although Australia hasn’t been as good as unbeaten India, it has showed enough muscle after registering its eighth straight win in the tournament.
Travis Head made 62 and David Warner’s brisk 29 off 18 balls saw Australia motor along at 10-an-over inside the first six overs.
Kagiso Rabada was smacked for 21 in one over that featured two Warner sixes and one from Head before South Africa spinners contained Australia’s top-order batter.
Warner was clean bowled by offspinner Aiden Markram off his first delivery and newly crowned world No. 1 ODI spinner Keshav Maharaj had Head bowled off a superb delivery once he was introduced into the attack in the 15th over when Australia had already chopped off half of the required runs.
South Africa, which missed out on couple of catching chances, fought back when leftarm spinner Tabraiz Shamsi had Marnus Labuschagne leg before wicket and then skidded through power-hitter Glenn Maxwell’s defense to knock back the leg stump with Australia still needing 76 on a tricky wicket.
Temba Bavuma tried to hold back few overs of Shamsi and Maharaj after Steven Smith and Josh Inglis added a crucial 37-run stand. But then the game took another twist when out of nowhere Smith attempted a rash pull shot against Gerald Coetzee and holed out in the 34th over and later went through the defenses of Inglis with Australia still needing 20.
But Cummins stood firm before seeing Australia over the line.
Cummins was more impressed with the way Australia bowled in overcast conditions and was well supported by the fielders — especially 37-year-old Warner — as Australia dried up runs in the batting powerplay and South Africa slipped to 24-4 after Bavuma won the toss and elected to bat.
“Bit gloomy, swinging around so wasn’t too upset (to lose the toss),” Cummins said after his new ball bowlers Cummins and Josh Hazlewood ran through the top-order. “(Fielding) is something we talk a lot about, but wasn’t up to scratch at the start of the tournament, but Davey (David Warner), 37, diving around, incredible.”
Sunday’s final will feature a home crowd of over 100,000 at Narendra Modi Stadium.
“The good thing is a few of us have been there for finals before,” Cummins said. “Got to embrace it, the stadium is going to be packed, pretty one-sided but got to embrace it. The 2015 World Cup was a career highlight, so to be out there in a final in India, can’t wait.”
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