Yet another World Cup heartbreak for South Africa

Captain Temba Bavuma's decision to bat first under overcast conditions backfired

By Anis Sajan

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South Africa's captain Temba Bavuma reacts during the semifinal. — AP
South Africa's captain Temba Bavuma reacts during the semifinal. — AP

Published: Fri 17 Nov 2023, 12:55 AM

Team Australia always find ways to reach ICC ODI finals and sadly Team South Africa can’t decode how to reach the finals of an ICC World Cup.

Right from 1992 where they were robbed of a semifinal due to rain, the heart break against Australia in the 1999 semifinal in England where the match ended in a tie, the 2007 drubbing at the hands of Australia in West Indies, the 2015 last-ball defeat to hosts Kiwis and once again today the loss to Australia in yet another loss to Australia.

Before Thursday's semifinal, South Africa had won every bilateral series in the last four years and had completely dominated Australia in ODI cricket and even beaten Australia in 2019 World cup game and in the league game a month ago at Lucknow.

South Africa had hammered Australia by 134 runs. But that was Australia's last loss in this tournament and after that Australians won their remaining seven league games and were high on confidence.

And when the toss went in South Africa's favour, captain Temba Bavuma decided to bat even though the conditions were overcast.

The decision was taken as South Africa's track record in chasing was poor, but it backfired and were on the mat at 23/4.

But David Miller got them in the game with a hundred which was of the highest standard. But South Africa did not back their bowlers by dropping crucial catches.

At one stage Australia were 137/5 with the last recognised pair and with the ball turning square as Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi were in top form.

But South Africa did not attack by keeping fielders in catching position and there were many opportunities which South Africa did not grab and, in the end, it was the difference in South Africa losing yet another semifinal.

This was South Africa's game for the taking with the Eden Garden crowd behind them but as it had been the case in the past so many World Cups.

South Africa fought but could not close out the game to face yet another heart break.

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