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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Cricket World Cup 2023: Australia in control of South Africa semi-final despite Miller century

South Africa have it all to do in Thursday’s World Cup semi-final despite David Miller hitting a defiant century against Australia, with the Aussies bowling their opponents out for 212 at Eden Gardens.

Australia looked like cruising to victory when Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood blitzed South Africa’s top order, with Travis Head later stemming a potential fightback with two wickets in as many balls.

Though Miller’s gutsy 101 gave South Africa a shred of hope before he departed in the 48th over, his team ultimately found themselves all out for one run short of their total from 1999’s famous tied semi-final between the teams, and the Proteas need a spectacular effort with the ball to reach Sunday’s final.

South Africa approached Thursday’s clash chasing their first-ever knockout win over Australia at an ODI World Cup and with doubts over the fitness of skipper Temba Bavuma. His outing was a short one as he nicked off to Josh Inglis for a four-ball duck on the final delivery of Starc’s opening over.

Fellow opener Quinton de Kock found himself under pressure from the off, and it told shortly before the end of the sixth as Pat Cummins took a superb backpedalling catch off Hazlewood’s ball.

The Australian assault did not relent there as Hazelwood and Starc doubled up with the respective dismissals of Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen within another six overs, but Heinrich Klaasen led something of a fightback with a near run-a-ball 47 either side of a brief rain delay.

Head got his all-important wicket, crashing middle and leg as Klaasen swung wildly at a straightforward delivery, and a similar dismissal of Marc Jansen off the very next ball left South Africa 119-6.

Miller then took it upon himself to drag South Africa towards a respectable total with his century, sealed with a massive six off Cummins, but it was a hundred and out for him as his next swing found Head at the boundary.

With Australia polishing off the tail with two balls remaining, Miller’s exceptional effort looks unlikely to be enough to set up a clash with hosts India in Sunday’s showpiece game.

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