South Africa's power-packed batting unit suffered a light-out against Australia, but they found enough support from the packed Eden Gardens crowd during the second semifinal of the World Cup in Kolkata on Thursday.
So, why did the Kolkatans cheer for the Proteas? It was quite simple as they preferred an India vs South Africa title clash on Sunday at Ahmedabad.
“Everyone knows what Aussies are capable of in a World Cup final. We dread to see an India-Australia final, so want them to lose today,” said Rashmi Bhattacharya, a software professional who had come with his 14-year-old son, sporting a Quinton De Kock jersey.
She represented the thousands of Indian spectators at the Eden, who cheered 'South Africaa, South Africaa", hoping that the five-time champions go out of India's way.
It was safe to assume that green outnumbered yellow among the fans, whose number touched 47,825 on this day.
As South Africa endured a top-order meltdown to be 24 for four, the stunned crowd fell into silence before finding their voice to cheer David Miller, who made a crucial hundred.
Australian openers Travis Head and David Warner hit the top gear while chasing 213 dealing in fours and sixes as there was an uneasy silence, broken occasionally by cheers from a handful of Aussie fans.
But the crowd got a ‘life' when Aiden Markram broke that partnership, bowling Warner.
The semifinal match was attended by ICC delegates including chairperson Greg Barclay, Chief Executive Geoff Allardice, ICC Director-New Zealand Martin and Anne Snedden, ICC Director-South Africa Lawson Naidoo, Chief Executive Cricket South Africa Pholetsi Makoni, Cricket South Africa President Rihan Richards and Cricket Australia Chief Executive Nick and Lauren Hockley.
World Cup winning Australia skipper Ricky Ponting rang the customary 'Eden Bell' to start the match.