Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock gave South Africa a racing start at Old Trafford after Faf Du Plessis won the toss and opted to bat, the openers putting on 73 in the first 10 overs to give the Proteas their most productive opening Powerplay of the tournament.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon entered the fray, and his probing lines saw him remove both Markram and De Kock. Rassie van der Dussen struggled early on in his innings against Lyon’s precision but grew in confidence alongside his skipper. Van der Dussen went to his third half-century of the tournament before Du Plessis – who finished unbeaten on 96 against Sri Lanka on Monday – advanced to his 12th ODI hundred. He fell the very next ball to Jason Behrendorff but runs continued to flow from van der Dussen’s bat.
Unfortunately for the right-hander, a maiden World Cup ton eluded him as he perished on 95 from the final ball of the innings. Nonetheless, he left the ground to plenty of applause, his knock helping South Africa finish on an impressive 325/6.
The South Africans got themselves off to an excellent start with the ball as Imran Tahir – playing his final ODI – had Aaron Finch caught at cover from the first ball of the third over. Usman Khawaja then left the field with a hamstring issue, before Steve Smith fell lbw to Dwaine Pretorius for 7. Marcus Stoinis put on 62 with David Warner before a moment of brilliance from De Kock saw the all-rounder run out. De Kock followed that up with a superb catch to remove Glenn Maxwell to make matters worse for Australia.
Warner kept going though, advancing to his third hundred of the tournament. With the in-form Carey alongside him, Australia entered the 40th over of the match requiring 99 runs, but the left-hander succumbed to a superb diving catch by Chris Morris. Carey then upped his gears with some superb hitting to keep hopes of a win alive The left-hander threatened to pull off something special before perishing to Morris. An injured Khawaja returned – and Mitchell Starc struck some lusty blows – but it was all in vain as South Africa ran out winners, consigning Australia to a second-placed finish in the group standings.