Miller's fighting century gives South Africa glimmer of hope

Miller's fighting century gives South Africa glimmer of hope

Kolkata, Nov 16 (PTI) David Miller absorbed extreme pressure with phenomenal ease on way to a rearguard 101, allowing South Africa to post a fighting 212 against Australia in the second World Cup semi-final here on Thursday.

Under gloomy and windy conditions, South Africa showed familiar signs of choking when their top-four Quinton De Kock (3), Temba Bavuma (0), Rassie van der Dussen (6) and Aiden Markram (10) departed cheaply to have them reeling at 24/4 in 12 overs.

Mitchell Starc (10-1-34-3) and Josh Hazlewood (8-3-12-2) were breathing fire making full use of the conditions, but after a 40-minute rain delay, it was the Miller show.

Miller's 116 ball-effort was his sixth ODI century and the first one for Proteas in a World Cup knock-out game.

The southpaw took a blow on his finger from a Josh Hazlewood snorter, but he remained steady and unleashed his 'Killer-mode' smashing eight fours and five sixes.

On a turning wicket, Miller had little trouble and was brutal especially against Adam Zampa who leaked 55 runs from his seven overs.

He reached the three-figure mark by hitting Pat Cummins over square leg for a 94-metre six.

His 95-run partnership with Heinrich Klaasen (47 off 48) gave South Africa the much-needed respite before part-time off-spinner Travis Head turned it on taking two wickets in two balls to dent South Africa's recovery.

After Klaasen, Gerald Coetzee (19) gave a fine support to Miller as they put together quick fifty-plus partnership for the seventh wicket.

But it had a nightmarish end as Coetzee fell on the pull to Cummins flicking off the glove through to Josh Inglis. Replays showed the ball only hit his elbow, but he didn't take the review.

Running out of partners, Miller finally perished in the 48th over.

Having lost two of their matches while chasing, South Africa skipper Temba Bavuma backed their strength to bat first but it turned out to be a pace bowlers' paradise.

Australian new-ball bowling duo of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood revelled in the conditions, letting the ball do the talk in a sensational bowling display up front to reduce the power-packed South Africa to 17/2 inside powerplay, their slowest since 2008.

There was ominous swing, steep bounce and South African openers looked timid against Starc and Hazlewood, consuming as many as 50 dot balls in first 10 overs.

They both bowled 13 overs in tandem and by the time they finished their first spell, South Africa's most-hated 'C'-Word started to haunt them with 24/4 on board. Starc's figures read 7-1-18-2 and Hazlewood's of 6-1-12-2.

It's not just the bowling duo, but Australia's razor sharp fielding by Marnus Labuschange and David Warner saved at least 15-20 runs inside the ring.

Out of form Temba Bavuma played without being 100 per cent fit, and looked tentative in the first over against Starc, finally perishing for a four-ball duck when he poked one behind the stumps.

The packed Eden spectators who came sporting De Kock jerseys were in for a disappointment as the team's best batter of the tournament Quinton De Kock (3) succumbed to scoreboard pressure. His mistimed hit was brilliantly caught by backward-running Pat Cummins.

Another in-form batter Aiden Markram, who hammered a record 49-ball century against Sri Lanka, looked to take on the attack against Starc only to be taken by Warner at backward point to depart for a 10-ball 20.

Rassie van der Dussen trudged off with a 31-ball six falling to Hazlewood in the next over, bringing together their last dependable pair of Klaasen and Miller.

The signs of revival was evident when Klaasen greeted Pat Cummins with a glorious cover drive before a 40-minute rain suspension gave the Proteas some breather. PTI TAP BS BS BS

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