Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
When: Thursday, November 16
This one has every chance of being good. South Africa and Australia finished comfortably second and third on the log in the group stages. They both had 14 points from seven wins and two defeats, which put them four points behind undefeated India but four ahead of fourth-placed New Zealand.
We have already seen this game in the 2023 Cricket World Cup. South Africa trounced Australia over a month ago, beating them by 134 runs in Lucknow. The result was a black day for the five-time champions, with this being the heaviest World Cup defeat in Australian cricket history in the format.
Australia would have expected to win as they got to bat second against the Proteas. Instead, they were miserable with the bat being bowled out for just 177 after South Africa set an impressive, but beatable, 312 for the Aussies to win.
Add in that South Africa also beat Australia 3-2 in a bilateral series before this tourmanet started and the Proteas will have no fear here against a team they know they are good enough to beat.
The Proteas are the almost team of the ODI world. They have reached the semi-final stage four times but never progressed past it. That includes a pair of defeats to the Aussies at this stage, with the team often finding weird and creative ways to lose in pressure games. While not the exact opposite of the Springboks’ mentality, it is a notable trend when a team keeps losing at the same point in an event. The last-ball defeat in the 1999 Cricket World Cup still stings almost 25 years later.
The defeat by South Africa back on October 12 was the last one Australia suffered this tournament. It followed an opening match defeat at the hands of India, and they would love the chance to bookend this tournament by avenging both those defeats. Australia has rattled off seven wins in a row since that match, with the Aussies showing the type of form we would expect from them along the way.
Virat Kohli is the only player at this World Cup to have made more runs than Proteas opener Quinton de Kock. De Kock is 3/1 to be the best batsman for South Africa here, while Rassie van der Dussen (15/4) and Aiden Markram (4/1) should also be considered as they have also been in excellent form. I would still take De Kock to be the best on show, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see him add to his four centuries this tournament (which included one against the Aussies in the pool stage).
Given their high standards, the Aussie bowling attack has been strangely out of sorts. Adam Zampa (3/1) is the only player I would trust. The seamer looks like he might be the top wicket-taker in the tournament. He has had to be good, with leg spinner Pat Cummins and pacer Mitchell Starc off the boil.
Be sure to watch the weather – some models have chances of rain as high as 75% – but this feels like it should be the year that the Proteas put their semi-final curse to rest.