Australia survived South Africa to record a stunning three-wicket victory in the ICC World Cup semi-final in Kolkata on Thursday.
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Travis Head, who missed Australia’s World Cup squad due to a broken arm, was later adjudged Player of the Match for his all-round display which included a couple of key wickets.
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Speaking to the broadcasters after Australia’s win, Head revealed that he was always ready to play with the ball for his team.
“We didn’t see such a turn, we knew we had to fight. I thought I wasn’t going to be here (after the hand injury), but I’m happy to contribute for Australia, it’s nice to be here.
“Just as they came (Klaasen’s dismissal). He smacked me, was under the pump, but it was nice to get his wicket. I was happy to swap a few goals, I was always keen to pass the ball,” said Head after the match,” Head said after Australia’s tense win at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
The southpaw not only laid the foundation for Australia’s successful chase with an explosive 62 off 48 deliveries, he also picked up two wickets in as many deliveries as his part-time spinner, including Klaasen’s 95-run fifth-wicket haul. -wicket partnership with Miller.
Earlier in the day, Australia had South Africa on the mat after reducing them to 24/4 as Proteas skipper Temba Bavuma’s decision to bat appeared first. That was before David Miller’s fighting 101 along with a valuable 47 from Heinrich Klaasen allowed them to post a competitive 212.
The five-time world champions then began the chase by amassing 60 runs in another six overs before another goal from the opposition, this time with the ball. Australia found themselves hampered at 137/5, but patient strikes from Steve Smith (30) and Josh Inglis (28) brought them back into the contest.
After Gerald Coetzee sent Smith and Inglis back to the Pavilion with a couple of late strikes, it was left to the eighth wicket pair of Mitchell Starc (16 not out) and skipper Pat Cummins (14 not out ) to defeat their team. the line with an unbroken 22-run streak.
Cummins, who hit the winning boundary to help Australia to victory with 16 deliveries to spare, later praised his team for a “fantastic effort” as they beat the Proteas for the second time in three World Cup semi-final meetings.
“It’s easier than sitting in the dugout. A few hours spent on nerves but a great effort and a great game,” Cummins said during the post-match awards ceremony.
Australia will now face India in the 2003 final in Johannesburg, with the two teams set to clash at Ahmedabad’s Narendra Modi Stadium on Sunday. Australia led by Ricky Ponting hammered India’s Sourav Ganguly by 125 runs back then.
This time, however, it is the Rohit Sharma-led hosts who are enjoying a dominant run in the tournament with 10 wins in as many outings. That includes a six-wicket win over Australia in Chennai where the Men in Blue recovered from 2/3 down after being set to win 200.
Despite India’s dominance in this tournament, Cummins backed his team to lift the trophy for a record sixth time on Sunday.
“The good thing is that we’ve had a few people in the finals before. You have to accept it, the stadium will be packed, pretty one-sided but it got accepted. The 2015 World Cup was a career highlight, so to be out there in India’s final, can’t wait,” Cummins added.
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