Rain stops just in time for fearless Aussies

Australia has beaten South Africa to win its way through to the T20 World Cup final where it will take on India at the MCG on Sunday.

Defying the teeming Sydney rain that threatened all day to washout the game, the Australians fearlessly dug in with both bat and ball to keep their dream of back-to-back T20 World Cups alive.

 

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The Aussies beat the Proteas by five runs in a reduced-over game that included a captain's knock, a spectacular showing by the bowlers and diving catches in the field.

The match seemed unlikely to be played when daylight broke and the Sydney skies were ominously grey.

As puddles on the outer reaches of the Sydney Cricket Ground grew, the inevitable happened and the first semi-final between India and England was abandoned.

That sent India straight through to the final, breaking the hearts of the English who didn't even get a chance to even try to get there.

Meg Lanning played a captain's knock in Australia's dramatic win over South Africa.
Meg Lanning played a captain's knock in Australia's dramatic win over South Africa.

But just as the prospect of Australia suffering the same fate grew, suddenly the rain stopped, the covers came off and the second game started, just 20 minutes late and with no reduced overs.

After being so cruel to England earlier in the day, the weather gods were smiling on Australia.

Sent into bat, Aussie openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney got off to a flying start, defying the slow outfield, before Healy popped one up to Proteas captain Dane van Niekerk at mid-wicket, out having bashed 18 runs (13) including four fours.

Meg Lanning joined Mooney and the pair continued the slogging, getting Australia to 1-48 by the end of the powerplay.

When Mooney's stumps were knocked over by Nadine de Klerk, Jess Jonassen was elevated up the order to No. 4, 

Beth Mooney got Australia off to a strong start.
Beth Mooney got Australia off to a strong start.

but the gamble didn't pay off and the following over she was gone for just a single run.

Ash Gardner did no better, dismissed for a two-ball duck, bringing Rachael Haynes to the middle. The captain/vice-captain combination built a solid 32-run partnership.

Luck - not just up above - was also on the Aussies side when late in the innings, Lanning mishit one but it somehow fell short of the keeper before a slight mix up in the final over meant a direct hit would have ended Nicola Carey's night.

Lanning's unbeaten 49 from as many balls was gargantuan given the magnitude of what was at stake. South Africa's de Klerk was exceptional with the ball finishing with 3-17 from four overs.

Nadine de Klerk halted Australia's progress for a time with a string of middle over wickets.
Nadine de Klerk halted Australia's progress for a time with a string of middle over wickets.

Then the rain started again just as Australia ended their 20 overs on 5-134 and the game was reduced, giving the visitors 13 overs to score 98 runs.

Sophie Molineux returned to the Aussie line-up after taking three weeks to recover from a corked thigh, and after being hit for 11 runs off her first three balls, she struck and had opener Lizelle Lee caught on the boundary by Gardner.

When Megan Schutt bowled Dane van Niekerk the next over, and then Delissa Kimmince had Mignon du Preez caught for a duck five balls later, the Proteas had sunk to 3-24.

It was difficult to recover from there, despite the best efforts of Sune Luus (21 from 20) and Laura Wolvaardt (41 from 27).

Had this game been washed out, the Aussies would have been knocked out of the World Cup.

Cricket was both a cruel game and a game of luck in one very strange day.



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