South Africa once again failed to go past the semi-final in a 50 over World Cup.
It was a fifth semi-final elimination after 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015 and it is Australia who showed them the door three times.
At this World Cup, South Africa were the second best team after India going into the semi-final having won 7 of their nine games in the league stage.
Throughout the league stage, they played with intent. Even though Captain Temba Bavuma was woefully out of form and injury kept him in and out of matches, South Africa marched forth as a team ready to achieve what no other Proteas team ever had -- winning an ICC 50-over World Cup title.
Batting first had been South Africa's strong suit in the league stage -- expect for the win over Pakistan where they won by 1 wicket, six of their seven wins came while setting the target.
So, in the semi-final against Australia on Thursday, when Bavuma won the toss, he elected to bat.
The pitch report had suggested big runs on an Eden Gardens flat track and Bavuma went by the wicket he saw and made his decision.
Not considering the conditions may have caused his downfall -- there was a bit of a drizzle just before the toss and the pitch was covered overnight because of the threat of rain.
Common sense would have called for Bavuma to bowl first with overcast skies and the covered pitches that could have assisted his pacers. But Bavuma decided to play safe and go by the tried and tested method that had got his team success thus far in the tournament.
And how costly did that error in judgment prove!
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood got the ball to swing, seam and sing to their tunes and the South Africans just couldn't find the arsenal to fight the accuracy of the Aussie pace duo. The Proteas were reduced to 24 for 4 in 11.5 overs.
David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen put on a 95 run stand to resurrect the innings briefly. Miller hit a century and the Proteas managed to get past the 200 run mark and eventually put 212.
'Our character came through today. We showed a lot of resilience. The way we started with the bat and the ball was the telling point; that is where we lost the game. The conditions, combined with the quality of their attack was it, they really put us under pressure. You are always going to struggle to put up a competitive total when you are 24/4,' Bavuma said at the post-match presentation after the narrow loss.
'We were gaining some momentum when David Miller and Heinrich Klaasen were out there, but unfortunately, he could not carry on a bit longer. Miller's innings was superb, really highlighted the character of the entire team. It was extraordinary to do that in such a pressure situation and in a World Cup semi-final.'
With the batting line-up that Australia possess, 212 was never going to be a huge task and all that the Proteas needed were some early wickets to rattle the opposition.
Bavuma once again faltered, this time he brought in his top two spinners a tad too late, allowing the Aussies to go after an out-of-form Marco Jansen and inconsistent Kagiso Rabada.
Australian Openers Travis Head and David Warner gave their team a flying start. The duo was batting at lightning pace and at one point were going at over 10-an-over -- they were 60 for no loss after 6 overs. But once part-time off-spinner Aiden Markram got the opening breakthrough, castling Warner for 29 off 18, they put the pressure back on the Aussies.
What stood out as a sore thumb for the Proteas was the dropped catches that eventually made a difference. Not latching onto half chances and failure to hold on simple catches put paid to South Africa's bowling efforts.
Head was dropped by Reeza Hendricks and Klaasen in the space of 14 balls. Four overs later, wicket-keeper Quintion de Kock couldn't hold onto Steve Smith's edge off spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. De Kock once again messed up in the 45th over when he failed to grab a catch to dismiss Pat Cummins off Markram's bowling. There were four dropped catches in total.
Another issue was 17 extras bowled with a paltry total to defend.
Australia's middle order spectacularly failed to cash in on the good start as Markram (1 for 23 off overs) along with left-arm spinners Tabraiz Shamsi (2 for 42) and Keshav Maharaj (1 for 24) shut the flow of runs.
Austraiia failed to build any partnerships and get any momentum as their biggest worry was to quell the challenge of the spin trio. Once Shamsi had Marnus Labuschagne and Glenn Maxwell off consecutive balls, Australia at 138 for 5 were certainly a worried side.
Pacer Gerald Coetzee was brought back into the attack in the latter half of the match with Bavuma hoping for another wicket and the young man repaid the captain's faith with two!
He took out Steve Smith and Josh Inglis inside six overs and reduced Australia for 193 for 7, needing just 20 off the last 10 overs. But Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc put on a real fight to stay at the crease till the end and win by 3 wickets and 18 balls to spare.