Champions Trophy: England beat South Africa to reach final
Champions Trophy semi-final, The Oval
England 179-3 (37.3 overs) beat South Africa 175 (38.4 overs) by seven wickets
England powered into the final of the Champions Trophy with a seven-wicket victory over a South Africa side who once again underperformed in a major semi-final.
James Anderson (2-14) and James Tredwell (3-19) starred with the ball as the Proteas collapsed to 80-8 before a 95-run stand between David Miller and Rory Kleinveldt hauled them to 175.
Jonathan Trott scored a typically measured unbeaten 82 as England passed their modest target in 37.3 overs to reach their first global 50-over final since 2004.
The hosts will play the winners of Thursday's second semi-final between India and Sri Lanka in Sunday's final at Edgbaston.
It is some achievement for Alastair Cook's side, who have calmly shrugged off criticism of their cautious batting tactics, allegations of ball-tampering and injuries to Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann to reach the showpiece.
Test Match Special analysis
"Set up up by a combination of very good bowling and nervy South African batting that never quite overcame that start, it looked as though it might be all over by lunchtime.
"As is usually the case, there was a stand. But England have knocked off the runs in the sunshine with 12.3 overs to go."
The question now is whether they can go one better than the 2004 Champions Trophy final, when they were improbably beaten by West Indies at The Oval.
For South Africa, this defeat will no doubt be added to their long list of so-called "chokes" in 50-over tournaments.
The Proteas, who won the inaugural Champions Trophy (then known as the ICC Knock Out) in 1998, infamously threw away a winning position against Australia in the following year's World Cup semi-final and went out of the 2003 World Cup on home soil in the group stage after misinterpreting the Duckworth-Lewis rain rule.
They also suffered batting collapses in losing to Australia and New Zealand at the semi-final and quarter-final stages at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups.
After being put in to bat on a humid, overcast morning, South Africa were blown off course by a superb opening burst from Anderson and almost entirely derailed by Tredwell, who took three wickets in his first five overs.
Colin Ingram was trapped lbw by Anderson with the fifth ball of the innings and Steven Finn followed up with the prize wicket of Hashim Amla in the next over.
Amla, who scored an unbeaten 311 against England in last year's Oval Test, made a late decision to leave a ball outside off stump and gave Jos Buttler the first of six catches.
Robin Peterson and Faf du Plessis's brief rebuilding act was curtailed as Anderson vindicated Cook's decision to extend his spell into a seventh over by removing Peterson lbw with a full, straight ball.
Trott's last 6 ODI innings
- 109* v New Zealand, Southampton
- 37 v NZ, Trent Bridge
- 43 v Australia, Edgbaston
- 76 v Sri Lanka, The Oval
- 8 v New Zealand, Cardiff
- 82 * v South Africa, The Oval
South Africa's next five wickets added just 35 runs, with the England-supporting contingent of the crowd revelling in the mayhem on the hottest day of the year.
Captain AB de Villiers, whose one-day average exceeds 50, had a reckless swipe at Stuart Broad and was caught behind before JP Duminy played on to Tredwell.
Du Plessis edged Tredwell behind and Ryan McLaren was expertly run out by Trott from slip after a sharply turning ball had deflected off the batsman's pad.
Miller announced his intentions by crashing Finn over long-off for six as he led a spirited counter attack with Kleinveldt, who replaced the injured Dale Steyn.
They struck 12 boundaries in an entertaining partnership as they dragged South Africa towards respectability.
But Broad wrapped up the innings in the space of two balls by having Kleinveldt, for 43, and Lonwabo Tsotsobe pouched by the excellent Buttler, leaving Miller unbeaten on 56.
England had openers Cook and Ian Bell caught behind inside the first 11 overs to give South Africa a sniff at 41-2.
But Trott exuded calm authority as he put away anything overpitched to keep England in the ascendancy.
Joe Root struck seven fours and had moved to within two runs of 50 when he was bowled round his legs attempting a paddle sweep off Duminy.
By that point, however, with only 30 needed for victory, the match was a foregone conclusion. Fittingly, it was Trott who struck the winning runs through the covers to see England into the final.