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Women's T20 World Cup: Australia Women v South Africa Women preview: Balance of power lies with holders

It's no surprise to see holders Australia having reached the final of the Women's T20 World Cup, but hosts South Africa have exceeded expectations by securing their place in the tournament finale at Newlands.

The absences of both Dane van Niekerk and Lizelle Lee had been expected to leave the Proteas a little short, but they have proved their doubters wrong, having begun the competition as fifth favourites for the title at around 25/1.

Now they face the biggest challenge in the women's game, trying to find a way to prevent Australia from adding a sixth T20 World Cup to their roll of honour, with them having previously triumphed in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2018 and 2020.

WhatAustralia Women v South Africa Women
WhereNewlands, Cape Town, South Africa
When13:00, Sunday 26th February
How to watchbet365 Sports Live Streaming, Sky Sports Cricket
OddsAustralia Women 1/7, South Africa Women 9/2

Australia survive India semi-final thriller

Australia had looked invincible as they topped Group 1 with four wins out of four, sweeping aside New Zealand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South Africa with the minimum of fuss.

However, they were pushed to the limit in their semi-final clash with India at Newlands, eventually holding their nerve to edge home by a five-run margin in a final-over thriller which could have gone either way.

Beth Mooney made 54 and Meg Lanning 49 not out as the Aussies racked up 172-4 from their 20 overs, but that proved to only just be enough to secure the win.

All-rounder Ash Gardner - nominated for Player of the Tournament alongside team-mates Lanning and Alyssa Healy - held her nerve in the final over, with India managing only 10 of the 15 they required for victory.

Gardner, 25, has impressed with both bat and ball during the run to the final, making 81 runs at a strike-rate of just over 114 when offered limited opportunities, while also capturing nine wickets at an average of 11.66 and an economy rate of 6.56.

Her more experienced colleagues Healy, Lanning and Mooney have done most of the damage with the bat, with both Healy and Mooney having two half-centuries to their names.

Healy is 11/4 to be Team - Top Batter on Sunday, with Mooney available at 3/1 and Mooney 11/4 and South Africa will probably need to dismiss at least two of that trio cheaply if they are to pull off a major shock.

With the ball the vastly experienced Megan Schutt has matched the nine-wicket return of Gardner and is 3/1 to be Team - Top Bowler at Newlands, with Gardner a 9/2 shot.

One note of caution for Australia is that their group stage win over the Proteas did contain a little wobble as they were reduced to 40-3 chasing 125 for victory in Gqeberha and needed a hard-hitting 57 not out from Tahlia McGrath to see them home, admittedly with six wickets and 21 balls in hand.

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Proteas edge England to reach first final

South Africa were expected by most observers to lose out to England in their semi-final on Friday, but another last-over thriller went their way by six runs as Shabnim Ismail conceded a mere six runs in the final over to spark scenes of joy for most inside Newlands.

Ismail, along with fellow seamers Ayabonga Khaka and Marizanne Kapp, has been instrumental in the Proteas going all the way to the final, with all of that trio going for less than a run-a-ball across the tournament to date.

That sort of economy rate will be needed if Australia are to be denied, with Ismail 10/3 to be Team - Top Bowler in the final and both Khaka and Kapp available at the same price.

With the bat, the holders appear to have a wealth of options at their disposal, while South Africa appear to be relying heavily on their opening partnership of Tamzin Brits and Laura Wolvaardt.

Both have made two half-centuries in the tournament, with Brits top-scoring with 68 in the victory over England and Wolvaardt contributing 53 to an opening stand of 96 that proved crucial to the final outcome.

No other batter has really fired for South Africa so far, so the pressure will be on Brits and Wolvaardt to deliver again on Sunday, with the former having made 45 from 36 balls in the group stage reverse at the hands of Australia.

That was Brits' first knock against Australia in the 20-over format, while Wolvaardt has made 41 not out and 19 in her two T20I innings against their final opponents.

Brits is 15/4 to be Team - Top Batter on Sunday, with Wolvaardt priced at 13/5, and it is hard to see how the tournament hosts can spring one more shock unless one or both of their openers make major contributions

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