Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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South Africa 275 for 7 (Wolvaardt 80, du Preez 52, Goodall 49, Kapp 32, Harmanpreet 2-42, Gayakwad 2-61) beat India 274 for 7 (Mandhana 71, Raj 68, Verma 53, Harmanpreet 48, Klaas 2-38, Ismail 2-42) by three wickets
India have been knocked out of the 2022 World Cup, after South Africa completed their highest successful chase in ODIs, hunting down a decent target of 275 after a middle-order wobble. The result puts West Indies in the semi-final in fourth place, which means they will face Australia in the last four. South Africa will play England in a repeat of the 2017 semi-final, after England beat Bangladesh in their last group stage match earlier in the day.
South Africa's unbeaten run batting second has now extended to 16 matches, including four at this competition, where all their victories have been nail-biters. They finished with five wins in seven group-stage matches, and their batting has improved on each occasion. This time, they needed 20 runs off the last three overs, 14 off the last two, and six off the final over, and had former captain Mignon du Preez and the tail to take them there. du Preez reached her first half-century of this World Cup, and highest score in 12 matches since September 2021, but it was not without its own drama.
She was caught at long-on off what would have been the penultimate ball off the match, bowled by Deepti Sharma, with South Africa needing three runs off two balls. The batter was almost off the field when the umpires asked her to wait, and checked Deepti's front foot. Her heel was lifted above the line and the no-ball was called. du Preez returned to hit the winning run through midwicket to send India packing.
In the changeroom, a distraught Jhulan Goswami watched after missing out on this match with a side strain. It was the first time in five World Cups and two decades that India have played a World Cup match without Goswami and she was missed in the field. Meghna Singh, who replaced her, conceded 37 runs in six overs and went wicketless.
India's defence started well when they ran Lizelle Lee out at the non-striker's end for six to extend her poor run. Lee has scored just 79 runs in six innings in the competition after missing the first match. Her opening partner, Laura Wolvaardt, has been in great form, though. She brought up her fifth fifty of this event and became the first batter to score over 400 runs at the event, and now sits 75 runs ahead of her nearest competitor, Meg Lanning, for this tournament.
For the first time at the competition, Wolvaardt found a No. 3 to form a significant partnership with. Lara Goodall, who replaced Tazmin Brits, shared in a 125-run second-wicket stand and was stumped one run short of her fifty to help set up South Africa's chase. But the over after Goodall's dismissal, Wolvaardt was drawn forward by Harmanpreet Kaur, beaten by flight and turn, and bowled.
That left it to Sune Luus and du Preez to put South Africa back on track. Luus was out lbw for 22, which brought Marizanne Kapp to the crease with 93 needed off 14 overs. She approached the finisher's role, as she has done throughout the tournament, with aggression. Kapp found the fence three times, but with India's field spread, she had to push to rotate strike, which was her undoing. Kapp was run-out and left South Africa leaving 46 runs off 31 balls.
du Preez took two fours off Pooja Vastrakar's last over and Chloe Tryon took on Rajeshwari Gayakwad for three fours in her five balls, before he was caught off a leading edge as the advantage swung wildly in the last period. South Africa needed 20 off the last three overs and got there to finish their group-stage run on 11 points.
Earlier, half-centuries from Smriti Mandhana, Shafali Verma and Mithali Raj, and a 48 from Harmanpreet gave India a competitive total on a decent pitch, but India would have been disappointed not to get closer to 300 after a strong start. Mandhana and Verma scored 68 in the first powerplay, and Verma brought up her first fifty of the tournament and third overall, off 40 balls. Their first-wicket partnership grew to 91 in 15 overs before Verma was run-out at the non-striker's end for 53.
Two overs later, Yastika Bhatia attempted to sweep an innocuous Tryon delivery and managed to edge the ball on to her stumps and South Africa were able to pull things back. In the next ten overs, they gave away 39 runs and conceded just two boundaries.
Mandhana brought up her fifty and was rebuilding with Raj, and their partnership had reached 80, when Mandhana miscued a heave towards mid-off, where Tryon had to spring back and to her right, and put in a dive, to pull off a two-handed catch. She did all that, and then flicked the ball casually away in celebration.
Raj hit her 64th ODI fifty and 13th at a World Cup - the most by any player - off 69 balls and demonstrated excellent timing and placement as India entered the last ten overs on 223 for 3. They scored 11 runs off the first 14 balls before Raj was dismissed, and then lost four wickets for 37 runs as South Africa's attack rallied. Shabnim Ismail and Masabata Klaas finished with two wickets each and India were kept to under 275.
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