KOLKATA (Eden Gardens): David Miller hit a defiant century to help rescue South Africa against Australia in the Cricket World Cup semi-finals on Thursday but the five-time champions will only chase a modest 213-run target to make the final.
Australia fast bowler Mitchell Starc returned figures of 3-34 after South Africa had been reduced to 24-4 at one stage before Miller and Henrich Klaasen (47) staged a recovery under gloomy skies at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
The left-handed Miller reached his ton in 115 deliveries with a six off Pat Cummins but the Australian captain dismissed him two balls later on 101.
The innings folded soon after in 49.4 overs.
“Really big,” Miller, 34, said of his sixth career one-day international century. “Glad to get the hundred, but we want to win at the end of the day.
“We expected these conditions at the start of the match, but we were on the back foot after four down in the powerplay.”
Cummins and Starc took three wickets each while fellow quick Josh Hazlewood and part-time spinner Travis Head bagged two apiece.
Left-arm quick Starc struck in the first over to send back South Africa captain Temba Bavuma, who had said he was not “100% fit” at the toss, for a fourth-ball duck.
Hazlewood claimed the wicket of in-form Quinton de Kock for three as Cummins took a stunning catch.
De Kock, who will quit one-day international cricket when this World Cup is over, has scored 594 runs including four centuries to sit behind the tournament’s leading batsman Virat Kohli (711).
The new-ball bowlers kept up the attack with the wickets of Aiden Markram (10) and Rassie van der Dussen (six) as South Africa slumped and were 44-4 when rain interrupted play.
Klaasen and Miller hit back after the 45-minute rain break as the two hit regular boundaries.
The pair put on 95 for the fifth wicket but Head broke through to bowl Klaasen for 47. Head trapped Marco Jansen lbw on the next delivery to be on a hat-trick, which was saved by Gerald Coetzee.
Coetzee, who has been a breakout star for South Africa with 18 wickets, kept Miller company in a partnership of 53.
Miller smashed eight fours and five sixes in his 116-ball knock.
Coetzee fell caught behind off Cummins but replays suggested the ball grazed his shoulder and not his bat, but the batsman walked off without reviewing.
South Africa are trying to reach their first ever World Cup final after faltering in four semi-finals including two against Australia in 1999 and 2007.
Australia’s winning target brought back memories of the 1999 contest between the two teams when the Aussies were bowled out for 213 and South Africa finished on the same score.
The match ended tied but Australia went ahead due to a better group stage finish.
Brief scores: South Africa 212 all out in 49.4 overs (D. Miller 101, H. Klaasen 47; M. Starc 3-34, P. Cummins 3-51) v Australia