South Africa's dominant run in the ICC World Cup 2023 came to a heartbreaking end on Thursday as they choked in the second semi-final and lost to Australia by 6 wickets at the Eden Gardens.
The five-time champions will now face India in their 8th ODI World Cup final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on November 19.
It will be the second time these two teams will play in the ODI World Cup final after 2003 when Ricky Ponting's Australia crushed Sourav Ganguly's India to win their third title.
Proteas put up a good fight in Kolkata
South Africa however, did not go down without a fight as Australia collapsed from 60 for no loss to 137 for 5 thanks to the spells from spinners Tabraiz Shamsi and Keshav Maharaj but their total of 212 was just too small to defend.
Chasing 213 for victory, the Aussies rode on a quickfire 48-ball 62 from opener Travis Head and a patient 30 from Steven Smith to get near the target before the nervy 22-run stand between Mitchell Starc (16*) and captain Pat Cummins (14*) helped them crawl past the finish line in the 48th over.
Smith & Inglis save Aussies after Head 62
Australia were reeling at one stage after the collapse but a crucial 37-run partnership between Smith and Josh Inglis (19*) rescued them from troubled waters before South Africa again fought back in the final phase of the match through Gerald Coetzee.
Shamsi bagged a couple of wickets for South Africa while Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Aiden Markram and Gerald Coetzee grabbed one each but it wasn't enough to win the game for the Men in Green.
"Hard to unpack all of that. Tensed finish, amazing game. Didn't move from the seat for the last. We knew how it was going to play, we had three or four days here. We haven't seen such spin, we knew we had to battle.
"I thought I wasn't going to be here (after the hand injury), but I am happy to contribute for Australia, nice to be here. Disappointed for the way I got out, that (vs Maharaj) was a match up against a left-arm spinner, but wasn't to be," Player of the Match Travis Head said after the win.
Accurate Aus bowlers keep SA to modest total
Earlier in the day, a clinical bowling performance from Australia saw them bowl out the Proteas for 212 in 49.4 overs.
David Miller scored a valiant century while Heinrich Klaasen made 47 but the failure of the rest of the batters in their lineup led to their downfall.
Miller hit eight fours and five sixes during his rescue act, and brought up his century with a maximum over deep midwicket off Australian captain Pat Cummins. Miller got out two balls later, though.
A partnership of 95 runs between Miller and Heinrich Klaasen (47 off 48 balls) steadied the ship before Australia struck again to remove the latter through Travis Head.
Mitchell Starc and captain Pat Cummins took 3 wickets each while Josh Hazlewood and Head picked a couple each to restrict South Africa to a low score on a tricky wicket in Kolkata.