Despite enduring defeats in all four of their previous semifinal appearances in 1992, 1999, 2007, and 2015, the Proteas are resolute in their pursuit of redemption.
Notably, two of those losses came at the hands of Australia, with the 1999 clash at Edgbaston ending in a dramatic tie, ultimately favouring Australia due to a superior group stage performance. In 2007, South Africa faced a seven-wicket defeat after being restricted to just 149 runs at St Lucia.
The upcoming match at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens provides an opportunity for South Africa to rewrite their semifinal narrative.
Their journey to this stage has been impressive, securing a semifinal berth by winning seven out of nine league matches, including a historic moment of posting the highest score in World Cup history with 428 against Sri Lanka.
Adding to their confidence is the fact that South Africa has emerged victorious in their last four encounters with Australia, including a convincing 134-run win during the league stage of this World Cup in Lucknow just four weeks ago.
“There isn’t a lot of mystery about what’s lying ahead,” said fast bowler Gerald Coetzee who has claimed 18 wickets in seven matches.
“We can get calmness out of that, knowing what to expect.”
Five-time winners Australia are coming off seven straight wins.
That run included Glenn Maxwell’s one-man rescue mission when his unbeaten 201 led Australia to victory from the brink of defeat at 91-7 against Afghanistan.
Rassie van der Dussen, who made 76 in South Africa’s concluding group stage win over Afghanistan to take his tournament total to 442 runs, also shrugged off past disappointments.
“I was 10 years old (in 1999), so I don’t remember too much,” said Van der Dussen.
“In that year they had a really good chance to win the World Cup. I think we have a good chance as well.”
Australia opener Travis Head was four when the drama of Edgbaston was played out in 1999 so prefers to focus on the challenge ahead.
“The boys have been invested for a long time so if we’re going to spend that much time here we might as well try and go the whole way,” said Head.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work over the last couple of months to get to this stage, so we want to make the most of it.”
The fitness of South Africa captain Temba Bavuma remains a concern after he picked up a hamstring injury against Afghanistan.
But Bavuma is expected to play on Thursday after he batted in the nets at Eden Gardens.
South African batting has stood out at the World Cup.
Opener Quinton de Kock’s 591 runs is second only to the 594 of Virat Kohli.
The 30-year-old De Kock, who will quit one-day internationals at the end of the tournament, has four centuries to his name.
One of those came against Australia in the group stage.
But chasing remains an issue for the Proteas as their two defeats — against India and the Netherlands — both came batting second.
Australia have mastered chases.
After Maxwell’s epic knock against Afghanistan, Mitchell Marsh smashed an unbeaten 177 as Australia overhauled the 306 of Bangladesh with 32 balls and eight wickets to spare in their last league match.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa’s 22 wickets has put him on top of the bowling charts.
Opening batsman David Warner is one run short of 500 including two centuries and a highest of 163 in the win over Pakistan.
Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc and Maxwell both missed the game with Afghanistan but are expected to return for what will be Australia’s eighth semi-final in 13 editions.
However, rain could play spoilsport with downpours forecast for Thursday as well as Friday’s reserve day.
(With AFP Inputs)