Manchester: Australia will play England in the Cricket World Cup semi-final after the holders suffered a dramatic 10-run defeat against South Africa at Old Trafford yesterday.
David Warner marked his first match against South Africa since a 12-month ball-tampering ban with his third hundred of the World Cup, but it was not enough to prevent Australia suffering their second loss of the 10-team group stage.
Defeat on the penultimate ball meant Australia, who had already qualified for the semi-finals, failed to clinch top spot as India leapfrogged them to take pole position after beating Sri Lanka earlier yesterday.
Had Australia won, they would have faced fourth-placed New Zealand in the first semi-final at Old Trafford on Tuesday. But instead they will play resurgent hosts England in the second semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday. The final is at Lord’s a week on Sunday.
Warner (122) and Alex Carey (85) got Australia to within sight of a stiff target of 326 during a fifth-wicket partnership of 108. But neither could see their side home to victory after South Africa captain Faf du Plessis made 100 and Rassie van der Dussen a career-best 95 in a total of 325-6.
Australia were struggling at 119 for four and Warner could only watch as wickets fell early against a Proteas side whose own semi-final hopes had long since disappeared.
Australia captain Aaron Finch, Warner’s opening partner, went for three, when he chipped Imran Tahir to short cover, sparking a typically exuberant celebration from the bowler.
Steve Smith, who like Warner was given a 12-month ban for his part in the ball-tampering scandal during a Test in Cape Town last year, fell lbw for seven to Dwaine Pretorius.
Warner held firm, going past 600 runs for the tournament, with his latest century coming up in 100 balls when he edged Chris Morris for his 12th four.
He was eventually out when a drive off Dwaine Pretorius was well caught by a diving Morris at mid-on.