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India, Australia advance to Women's T20 World Cup final

SYDNEY (AP) — India and Australia are into the Women's Twenty20 Cricket World Cup final, ensuring the tournament started and will end with matches between these two countries. India via a rain-affected free pass in the semifinals and Australia with a five-run win over South Africa.

India advanced without bowling a ball when rain washed out their afternoon match against England on Thursday at the Sydney Cricket Ground. India finished first in Group A, giving it the advantage over England if the match was not played.

In the night semifinal at the same venue, Australia beat South Africa under the Duckworth-Lewis system after rain delayed the start of their match. Australia posted 134 for five in 20 overs after being sent into bat. South Africa was given a revised total of 98 runs from 13 overs after the rain finally stopped after the innings change.

The four-time champion Australians held South Africa to 92-5, with Laura Wolvaardt scoring an unbeaten 41 from 27 balls. When the Australia-South Africa match started, it was only nine minutes away from a deadline for the latest possible start under tournament regulations. A washout would have given South Africa the win and a spot in the final because it finished first in Group B.

The final on Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground coincides with International Women's Day. Organizers are hoping for a world record crowd for a women's sporting event in the 100,000-capacity stadium.

India beat Australia in the opening match of the tournament two weeks ago, reversing the result of the final of a pre-tournament tri-series that also involved England. Australia captain Meg Lanning top-scored against South Africa with a composed, unbeaten run-a-ball 49. Also taking two catches, she was voted player of the match.

Regular rules dictate a minimum of five overs per innings is required to constitute a T20 international, but in knockout matches for this tournament it was 10 overs per innings. There was no reserve day scheduled for the semifinals, and that cost England.

Heather Knight, the England captain, was reasonably diplomatic after the washout, which she dubbed "sad for the tournament," and made it clear that no team should suffer the same fate at future World Cups.

"They're the rules that everyone signed up to. Obviously there has been this situation ... so you'd hope now there is going to be a rule change," Knight said. “That moving forward, no other team will have to experience going out of a World Cup purely because of rain. Hopefully it changes. We're frustrated.

“The weather has cost us. It'll be nice not to have the jokes about English weather now ... that's one positive.”

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