Auckland, New Zealand: Faf du Plessis overcame an early test of nerve and patience to score 82, AB de Villiers made 65 not out and David Miller struck a vividly aggressive 49 as South Africa posted 281-5 Tuesday in a Cricket World Cup semifinal against New Zealand which has been heavily affected by rain.
Showers forced the players from the field after 38 overs, with South Africa 216-3. When players returned an hour and 54 minutes later the match had been shortened from 50 to 43 overs per innings.
South Africa added 65 runs in the five overs available after the resumption, leaving New Zealand to score 298 under the Duckworth-Lewis system to reach a World Cup final for the first time and after their seventh semifinal appearance.
Du Plessis struggled to find his timing early and faced a particularly thorough test from young fast bowler Matt Henry, who made an unlikely World Cup debut as an injury replacment for Adam Milne. Henry bowled two consecutive maidens to du Plessis, containing him as he took only 18 runs from his first 40 deliveries.
But du Plessis survived and blossomed in partnerships of 83 with Rilee Rossouw (39) for the third wicket and 103 from 72 balls with de Villiers for the fourth.
His determined stand with Rossouw restored the innings after Trent Boult had removed openers Hashim Amla (10) and Quinton de Kock (14) to have South Africa in trouble at 31-2 in the eighth over. Boult's double strike took him to 21 wickets for the tournament, a record for a New Zealander at a single World Cup.
As du Plessis ground his way to a half century from 85 balls, South Africa's position strengthened and it justified the decision to bat first on winning the toss.
South Africa was 114-3 when Rossouw was dismissed. And when de Villiers went to the crease in the 27th over, the tempo of the South African innings suddenly jerked through several gears as the skipper took on the New Zealand bowlers with typical power and aggression. His half century contained seven fours and a six.
South Africa was 216-3 — du Plessis was 82 and de Villiers 60 — when rain stopped play for almost two hours from the end of the 38th over. The weather delay threatened to break the growing momentum: du Plessis and de Villiers had added 87 runs in the eight overs before the interruption.
Du Plessis was out only two balls after the resumption, caught down the leg side from a Corey Anderson bouncer that had originally been called a wide. New Zealand referred the decision to the third umpire and replays showed du Plessis had gloved the ball in his attempted hook.
Miller joined de Villiers and started swinging straight away, hitting four fours among 17 runs off the first over he faced from Tim Southee. He took 20, with two sixes and a four, off the 41st over from Anderson. He was approaching the fastest World Cup 50 when he was out for 49. His 18-ball innings and contained six boundaries and three sixes.
New Zealand slipped away from the high standards it has set in the field in its seven wins at the tournament, missing three chances, including de Villiers when he was 38. Kane Williamson at cover wasn't able to hold a bludgeoned drive by de Villiers off Corey Anderson in the 35th over and de Villiers made the mistake costly by hitting a six and two fours from his next three balls.