Cricket: Fitzpatrick steers Australia into final

Australia 123-7 India 104-9 Australia won by 19 runs

Australia's women cricketers claimed a place in the World Cup final, against either England or New Zeland, when they defeated India in New Delhi on Christmas Eve.

It was an impressive victory after the Indians, with a fine spell of bowling, had managed to restrict the three times world champions to a modest 123 for 7 after wining the toss and putting them to bat.

The Australian captain, Belinda Clark, raised a valuable 66-run opening partnership with Joanne Broadbent, with the left-handed Karen Rolton being the other major contributor to the score.

The Indians, who seemed to have total control of the match, after the Australian innings, failed to capitalise on their advantage and quickly lost control of the game after four quick run-outs.

Despite Chandrakanta Ahir's valiant 48 runs, India's middle order collapsed in front of the Australian bowling attack and India managed to make only 104 runs losing nine wickets.

The unfortunate run-out of their captain, Purnima Rau, when the Indians were on 70, triggered a slump from which her team-mates could not recover.

The Australian pace bowler, Cathryn Fitzpatrick, who took three wickets for 18 runs in seven overs was named woman of the match.

The day's play had started 135 minutes late because of heavy fog and the match was reduced to 32 overs each. However, India, who were unable to bowl their overs in the stipulated time were penalised and lost two overs of their batting allocation.

Glenn McGrath, the Australian fast bowler, will be given until just before start of play to prove his fitness for the first Test against South Africa which starts in Melbourne today. McGrath, regarded as vital to Australia's hopes of beating the tourists, yesterday underwent the latest in a series of fitness tests this week to assess his recovery from a stomach injury.

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