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14-May-2010 03:08:00 GMT
Australia v India, 1st semi-final, Women's World Twenty20, St Lucia

Blackwell Leads Australia Into Women's Final

Gros Islet: Australia captain Alex Blackwell led from the front as her side advanced into the Women's World Twenty20 final with a seven-wicket win over India on Thursday.

Blackwell's 61 - her maiden fifty at this level - was the centrepiece of Australia's successful pursuit of a target of 120. Her innings was all the more impressive as Blackwell, only leading the side because wicketkeeper/batsman Jodie Fields withdrew before the tournament with a hamstring injury, came in with the score one for one.

But together with left-handed opener Shelley Nitschke (22), she shared a second-wicket stand of 74 that ended Indian hopes. By the time Blackwell was stumped by Sulakshana Naik off leg-spinner Priyanka Roy, Australia were 101 for three and in sight of victory. Blackwell faced 49 balls, including eight fours.

Leah Poulton, unbeaten on 30, ended the match with seven balls to spare with a boundary. Australia, who lost in last year's semi-final to eventual champions England, will face the winners of Friday's match between the West Indies and New Zealand in Sunday's final at Barbados's Kensington Oval.

Their victory also kept alive hopes of an Australian 'double', with the men's side facing defending champions Pakistan in Friday's semi-final.

Australia's reply get off to a stuttering start, when Elyse Villani was bowled off an under-edge for nought to leave her side one for one. But Nitschke, twice pierced the cover field as she drove left-arm spinner Gouhar Sultana for four.

Blackwell was soon into her stride, with three fours in as many balls from Roy as she took advantage of a trio of full tosses. Australia, thanks to tight bowling and fine fielding, restricted India to 199 for five.

Opener Poonam Raut made 44 off 51 balls, with three boundaries, before she became one of three wickets that fell in the 17th over. Raut put on 57 with Harmanpreet Kaur, the best stand of the innings, before she was run out by bowler Ellyse Perry's quick thinking flick onto the stumps after backing up too far.

That same over also saw Goswami run out for nought by opposing skipper Blackwell's direct hit and next ball Raut was caught by Jess Cameron, running in from long-on.

Amita Sharma, who hit a straight six in the final over to the delight of Indian fans in the crowd, chipped in with 17 runs off 11 balls. Earlier India star's batsman Mithali Raj was drawn out of her crease by experienced Australia spinner Lisa Sthalekar and stumped by Alyssa Healy - the niece of former Australia wicketkeeper Ian.

Brief scores
India Women
119 for 5 (Raut 44)
Australia Women 123 for 3 (Blackwell 61)
Result Australia Women won by 7 wickets
MOM Alex Blackwell (Australia Women)

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