Wesley Botton

By Wesley Botton

Chief sports journalist

Fighting Proteas crash out of Cricket World Cup after defeat to Australia

Australia secured a three-wicket victory with 16 balls to spare.

Though they put up a gutsy fight, South Africa were dumped out of the Cricket World Cup in the semi-final round for the fifth time on Thursday, again failing to reach the final of the 50-over showpiece after stumbling against Australia in Kolkata.

Needing 213 runs to win their last-four clash, the Australians got off to a great start, with opening batters Travis Head and David Warner sharing 60 runs for the first wicket at a run-a-ball.

Part-time spinner Aiden Markram removed Warner for 29 runs in the seventh over and Kagiso Rabada had Mitchell Marsh dismissed for a duck just nine deliveries later.

Head, however, went on to bash 62 runs off 48 balls before he was bowled by Keshav Maharaj.

And while the SA team continued to put up a fight, with a double-strike from Tabraiz Shamsi who removed dangermen Marnus Labuschagne (18) and Glenn Maxwell (one), they left themselves too much work to do. They also dropped too many catches to give themselves a real chance.

Steve Smith (30 off 62) and Josh Inglis (28 off 49) stuck their heels in, and Mitchell Starc (16 not out) and captain Pat Cummins (unbeaten on 14) carried Australia to 215/7 as they secured a three-wicket victory with 16 balls to spare.

Proteas innings

Earlier, David Miller led a comeback with a magnificent century which helped South Africa recover from an early collapse as they compiled 212 runs all out.

Captain Temba Bavuma, who had been cleared to play after recovering from a hamstring injury, was removed for a duck in the first over, and wickets continued to tumble with Quinton de Kock (three), Rassie van der Dussen (six) and Aiden Markram (10) falling cheaply.

Even more shocking, however, was the slow run-rate in the powerplay, with Australian frontline bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood giving away just 18 runs in the first 10 overs.

While a brief rain delay disrupted the Proteas’ innings, Miller and Heinrich Klaasen clawed back on their return to the field, combining in a 95-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Klaasen was eventually removed by Head in the 31st over after contributing 47 runs, and tail-ender Gerald Coetzee made 19 runs in a 53-run partnership with Miller for the seventh wicket.

Miller was dismissed for 101 runs in the 48th over, after hitting the sixth ODI century of his lengthy career. He faced 116 balls in an innings which included eight fours and five sixes.

Five-time champions Australia will face unbeaten hosts India in the World Cup final in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

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