Echoes of 1999 swirl but Proteas fall short of turning the tables on old foes | Geoff Lemon

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Semi-final followed an eerily familiar script but Australia held their nerve to ensure there was no redemption for South Africa

In the world of history repeating or otherwise, this was a half-rhyme – some matching assonance, some sympathetic consonance, the parts that followed the shape of the corresponding match in 1999. Most of the ingredients were there: a strong South Africa, a World Cup semi-final, a score of 213 being enough to send Australia through. This version was not as heart-twitching: the final chasing pair were operating at seven wickets down rather than nine, and the game was done with 16 balls to spare rather than two. But it was close enough that a sense of the past shivered through the present, for those of an age to remember it.

Sometimes, fortune finds you where you least expect to meet it. Australia’s fast bowlers had taken three wickets in their first two overs of this World Cup, then been battered hither and yon by every opening partnership in their path for the six weeks since. South Africa had batted first five times in the tournament and scored between 311 and 428. The captains flipped and the coin fell Temba Bavuma’s way. There were sighs of South African relief, fist pumps of South African triumph. Fate was finally showing a hint of kindness.

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Written by Geoff Lemon at Eden Gardens, Kolkata
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