Australia loses to South Africa, must now face England in semi
South Africa held their nerve and stuck it to Australia, winning by 10 runs in a thrilling World Cup match at Old Trafford and upsetting the semi-finals apple cart in the process.
The Proteas waited until their final pool match to play their best cricket, long after they were knocked out of the World Cup, but just in time to flip the semi-finals equation on its head.
The loss means Australia surrenders top stop to India and must now travel to Birmingham to play a resurgent England on Thursday, while India will play an out of form New Zealand side on Tuesday.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, South Africa put their foot down and Australia struggled to take early wickets. Skipper Faf du Plessis was brilliant, scoring 100 from 97 balls while Rassie van der Dussen fell five runs short of raising the bat, 95 from 97 deliveries.
Finishing their innings at 6/325, Australia had a mountain to climb and stumbled from the blocks when skipper Aaron Finch hit one straight to Aiden Markram at cover in the second over, out for three.
Worryingly, Usman Khawaja retired hurt after straining his hamstring, and Steve Smith managed just seven runs before being trapped in front.
David Warner remained at the crease throughout and held his nerve to post another magnificent century, his third of the tournament, 122 runs off 117 balls.
Alex Carey continued his stellar run of form by blasting 85 runs from 65 balls to keep Australia in the hunt, but South Africa had done the work early before driving the stake in late.
In the end, Australia fell 10 runs short and South Africa claimed a major scalp while salvaging a sliver of pride from what was otherwise an appalling showing this World Cup.
Australia’s Friday net session from hell cast a dark omen over the match as the casualty ward filled up once more. Usman Khawaja injured his hamstring and is in doubt for the Ashes, Marcus Stoinis’ side strain returned with a vengeance, and Mitchell Starc appeared to struggle with knee pain.
Australia remains alive and kicking in the World Cup, but the task of winning it just became considerably harder.
IMAGE CREDIT: Clive Mason/Getty Images