Kolkata, Nov 16: Weatherman rightly predicted that rain and wet field will play a part in the crucial second Semi-final of the ICC ODI Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 at the Eden Gardens, here on Thursday.
But South African skipper Temba Bavuma did not prefer to field first in excellent bowling conditions. He rather opted to bat first, perhaps based on his team's track record in the tournament of scoring big in first innings.
Australian bowlers used the conditions to the maximum and limited South Africa to a modest 212/10 in 49.4 overs.
Middle order southpaw David Miller, who scored a valiant 101 was the only African batter to have resisted the lethal Aussie bowling attack.
During the Proteas batting, after 14 overs, rain did interrupt play for sometime, but there was no reduction in overs.
Despite inclement weather, South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma, who decided to go by the team strength of batting first in the World Cup 2023, was the first one to return to the pavilion.
Bavuma faced four balls, but failed to open his account. He was dismissed for a duck in the final ball of Mitchell Starc's opening over of the match.
The Proteas skipper was caught by keeper Josh Inglis, who took a low catch moving to his right. Africa were 1/1 at the end of first over.
Mainstay of African batting and the player inform Quinton de Kock, departed after his skipper. He scored only 3 runs in 14 balls.
Australian captain Pat Cummins took a skier in the deep as Quinton lofted right-arm pacer Josh Hazlewood over mid-on. South Africa were struggling suddenly at 8/2 in 5.4 overs.
Aiden Markram (10 in 20 balls) was the next to go. He was removed by left-arm pacer Mitchell Starc, caught at point by David Warner.
Rassie van der Dussen was dismissed for 6, caught by Steven Smith at slips of fast bowler Hazlewood. He struggled hard to survive for 31 balls, but just could not overcome the challenge of facing Australian pacers in excellent bowling conditions. Africa were in deep trouble at 24/4 in 11.5 overs.
David Miller and Heinrich Klassen had a crucial 95-run partnership for the 5th wicket. But Travis Head with his part time off-break clean bowled Klassen, who was on 47.
The very next ball Head got Marco Jansen LBW for a duck. The Proteas again were in deep trouble at 119/6 in 30.5 overs.
Pace bowling all-rounder Gerald Coetzee gave good company to David Miller, but was eventually dismissed with Aussie captain Pat Cummins returning to attack for his final spell.
Coetzee made 19 in 39 balls, with two hits to the fence. Keeper Josh Inglis held another good catch behind the stumps.
Keshav Maharaj, was expected to continue till end and allow Miller to go for big shots in the final overs. But he had a very brief stay at the crease and departed for 4, offering Steve Smith a catch of Mitchell Starc.
Miller after scoring 101 in 116 balls, with 8 fours and 5 sixes, fell in the 48th over. Trying to clear the fence against Cummins, he was caught near boundary by Travis Head.
Kagiso Rabada (10 in 12 balls) was Cummins third victim as Glenn Maxwell held a fine catch at mid-on. The Africans were bundled out for 212 in the final over, with two balls still remaining.
South Africa for sure, fell short by 40 to 50 runs, which could have been a fighting total on Eden surface in conditions favouring the bowlers.
For Australia, Mitchell Starc (3/34), Pat Cummins (3/51), Josh Hazlewood (2/12) and Travis Head (2/21) dazzled with the ball and made mockery of the African batting line-up.
Earlier, despite a heavy cloud cover and some drizzle, the toss was held on time.
South Africa XI:
Temba Bavuma (Captain), Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Gerald Coetzee, Kagiso Rabada and Tabraiz Shamsi.
Pat Cummins (Captain), David Warner, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Steven Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Glenn Maxwell, Josh Inglis (wicket-keeper), Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa and Josh Hazlewood.