Australia through to Oval semi

ICC World Twenty20 2009

Karen Rolton

Australia captain Karen Rolton struck 43 to set South Africa an imposing target

Australia women remained on course for a semi-final meeting with England in ICC World Twenty20 with a hard-fought 24-run win over South Africa in their final Group A game, in Taunton.

Victory sees Australia finish second in the group behind New Zealand, and with England looking likely to top Group B, the old rivals are set to meet at The Oval on Friday afternoon.

Skipper Karen Rolton put her side on course as her 43 and an unbeaten 40 from Alex Blackwell set South Africa a tough 165-run target they did at one stage eye adventurously.

But never having reached 150 before in a Twenty20 international, making 120 against West Indies and 124 against New Zealand in this tournament, they lacked the middle-order punch to chase it down in spite of a rapid start.

None of the 'big three' - New Zealand, Australia and world champions England - have ultimately been turned over by the lesser-ranked sides, despite some promising situations.

Needing to do it this time in 19.3 overs to turn round a large net run rate deficit and sneak in to the semis themselves, South Africa openers Trisha Chetty and Shandre Fritz did not waste any time taking on the Australia attack, racing to 57 without loss off five.

Relief came for Australia as Ellyse Perry bowled Chetty for 36 at the start of the eighth over, and at 73 for one the clampdown had begun.

Jodie Fields

Jodie Fields falls to Shabnin Ismail for one but Australia recovered to post 164 for six and went on to win by 24 runs

A gift full-toss from Leah Poulton was blasted for a midwicket six by Fritz. But Poulton had the last laugh as she trapped her opposite number leg before for 39 next ball.

From there only captain Sunette Loubser (13), Marizanne Kapp (18 not out) and Charlize van der Westhuizen (14 not out) sneaked in to double figures. The last two added 26 in an unbroken eighth-wicket stand; but it was too little too late as Shelley Nitschke had already picked off a large chunk of the middle order to finish with 4-21.

Despite unsettling the Australia top order, South Africa had been unable to rein in Rolton, who helped them recover from 40 for two and 79 for five to post 164 for six.

Rolton eventually picked out Dane van Niekerk at long off to give Shabnim Ismail her third wicket in the penultimate over, having clubbed her for a straight four the ball before, and hit five fours and a six in total in her 33-ball stint.

Steady back-up from Lauren Ebsary (23), opener Poulton (22) and an unbeaten 22-ball knock from Blackwell coming in at seven ensured Australia finished their innings in dominant fashion.

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