March 24 was a momentous date in the world of cricket, just for all the wrong reasons.

The actions of an opening batsman during a 2018 Test series with South Africa plunged Australian cricket into crisis.

Six years earlier, one of the greatest footballers of the modern generation made Spanish football history.

It is also a date that marked the end of the career of arguably the best tight end to ever play a snap in the NFL.

We look back at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1936: Red Wings outlast Maroons in NHL marathon

Want an easy way to lose weight? Play nearly three full NHL games in one day. 

That's what Detroit Red Wings goaltender Normie Smith and his team-mates did as they defeated the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the first game of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, the longest game in NHL history.

Smith reportedly made 92 saves, losing 12 pounds of body weight in the process, before Mud Bruneteau scored the decisive goal in the sixth overtime period at the Montreal Forum, the game finally coming to a close at 2:25am.

Detroit went on to win their first Stanley Cup. Thankfully, shootouts mean such epics are no longer necessary in today's NHL.

2012: Ronaldo races to LaLiga landmark

Cristiano Ronaldo elevated himself from superstar to candidate for greatest of all time during his glittering career at Real Madrid.

Even in a spell that included four Champions League titles and two LaLiga crowns, his achievement of eight years ago against Real Sociedad ranks among his finest at Los Blancos.

Ronaldo netted twice in a 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, making him the fastest player to reach LaLiga 100 goals.

He reached his century in just 92 games, surpassing the mark set by fellow Madrid great Ferenc Puskas, who did the same in 105 games.

2018: Bancroft caught on camera

Australian cricket was plunged into a ball-tampering scandal on the third day of the third Test with South Africa. 

Footage emerged of Cameron Bancroft rubbing the ball with a yellow object, later revealed to be sandpaper.

His attempts to rough up the ball led to unprecedented sanctions being handed out by Cricket Australia. 

Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned from all forms of domestic and international cricket for 12 months for their roles in the incident.

They were also stood down from the respective leadership roles, with Warner removed from future consideration for such positions. Bancroft, meanwhile, was banned for nine months.

2019: Gronk bows out a champion

Rob Gronkowski became the gold standard at tight end in a career that will surely see him one day enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

However, the well-documented injuries he battled throughout his time in the NFL took their toll and he hung up the cleats after nine seasons in the league.

He went out a champion, however, helping the New England Patriots to their sixth Lombardi Trophy with victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII a month prior to his retirement.

Gronkowski won three Super Bowl rings with New England and, despite retiring before the age of 30, he ended his career widely regarded as the pre-eminent tight end in NFL history.

March 23 should forever be etched in the memories of Australian cricket fans, but Javier Mascherano will not remember the date so fondly.

Poor India were on the wrong end of a hammering in the 2003 Cricket World Cup final in Johannesburg, even with a star-studded batting line-up at their disposal.

Mascherano and his Liverpool team-mates also suffered a heavy defeat at Old Trafford, though the midfielder did not stick around to hear the final whistle.

Meanwhile, in golf, there was a lesser-spotted Monday finish on the PGA Tour.

We look back at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1981: Floyd reigns at Sawgrass after thunderstorms

The eighth edition of the Players Championship was forced into a Monday finish after bad weather wiped out the scheduled final day at Sawgrass.

Heavy thunderstorms led to a Monday finish, with three players – Raymond Floyd, Barry Jaeckel and Curtis Strange – tied at the top after 72 holes were completed.

A play-off between the trio lasted just the one extra hole; Floyd was the only player to par the 15th to secure the tournament.

It was his second successive win during the PGA Tour's Florida swing, the American having also prevailed at Doral near Miami the previous week.  

 

2003 - Skipper Ponting shines as Australia rule the world again

There was simply no stopping Australia in South Africa, Ricky Ponting's squad successfully retaining the trophy with a thumping victory over India to make sure they went through the 2003 tournament unbeaten.

The captain led from the front too, Ponting blasting a superb 140 not out as he shared in an unbroken stand worth 234 with Damien Martyn, who finished up unbeaten on 88.

Replying to a mammoth total of 359-2, India simply never recovered from losing Sachin Tendulkar - who was named player of the tournament - in the first over of their reply, caught and bowled by Glenn McGrath.

Virender Sehwag did make 82, but Australia bowled their opponents out inside 40 overs to win by 125 runs, in the process sealing their third World Cup crown.

 

2008: Ronaldo on target as Mascherano loses his cool

Manchester United remained on the path to retaining their Premier League title with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Liverpool.

Defender Wes Brown was the unlikely scorer of the opener, while Portuguese duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani added further goals in a comfortable win for the table-topping Red Devils.

They were aided by the dismissal of Mascherano, who was sent off for dissent before half-time. The Argentina international did not go quietly, however, as he needed to be escorted off the field.

United went on to be crowned champions again, a 17th top-flight title putting them just one behind their arch-rivals' tally at the time.

Few sporting events have been able to escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with public gatherings prohibited in many countries across the world.

So, with precious little live sporting events to keep fans entertained, many are looking to the past to satisfy those cravings.

Whether you hark back to specific 'Premier League Years', your favourite World Cups or that time your favourite tennis player lost in the Wimbledon final, nostalgia often has a big part to play in our love of sport.

Below, we picked out five noteworthy events from the world of sport that happened on this day – March 17.

 

1955 – The Richard Riot

Maurice Richard would not have known at the time just how much of an impact his actions on March 13, 1955 would have. A star of the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL, Richard struck a linesman during a match and was consequently banned for the rest of the season. Fans insisted it was too harsh, claiming the sanction was motivated by Richard's French-Canadian heritage. NHL president Clarence Campbell attended the Canadiens' next match and that sparked a riot, which was not contained to the Montreal Forum stadium. A reported $100,000 worth of damage was done, 37 people were injured and 100 arrests we made. Richard cooled the controversy as he accepted the punishment.

1977 – Australia win Centenary Test

Australia and England played out the Centenary Test on March 17, 1977, marking the 100th anniversary of what is considered to be the first Test cricket match. Starting on March 12 and concluding five days later, Australia won by 45 runs, the exact same margin of victory they recorded 100 years earlier.

1984 – Scotland end Five Nations wait

Scotland enjoyed a momentous day in rugby union on March 17, 1984. A 21-12 win over France at Murrayfield saw them clinch their first outright Five Nations win – and Triple Crown – since 1938, and their first Grand Slam since 1925, with Peter Dods' kicking proving decisive on the day. Scotland have only been the solitary winners of the competition – in either its previous guise or as the Six Nations – twice since.

2012 – Fabrice Muamba collapses in FA Cup match

English football was rocked on March 17, 2012, when Bolton Wanderers midfielder Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a televised FA Cup clash at Tottenham. The former England Under-21 player had suffered a cardiac arrest and it was later revealed his heart stopped for 78 minutes. Two days later, Muamba's heart was beating once again without assistance and he was eventually discharged from hospital on April 16. Although he had to retire early, Muamba has since gone into youth coaching.

2019 – McIlroy wins golf's biggest cash prize

This time last year, Rory McIlroy took home what was at the time the biggest purse in golfing history. At the 2019 Players Championship in Sawgrass, McIlroy carded rounds of 67, 65, 70 and 70 to finish 16 under and edge out Jim Furyk by a shot, clinching a pay cheque of $2.25m – the single biggest monetary prize handed out in golf at that point. However, the $3m Jon Rahm took home for winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai later that year set a new benchmark.

Rugby Australia has shut down its Sydney headquarters for two days after two members of the sevens programme went into self-isolation over coronavirus concerns.

RA announced on Sunday that the pair experienced symptoms after attending the High Performance centre within its Moore Park headquarters during the past week. They will be tested for coronavirus with the results expected in the next 72 hours.

As a result, the facility will now be closed for an intensive clean with all administrative staff advised to work from home.

An RA statement read: "Rugby Australia has implemented a stringent policy with regards to any player or staff member that experiences symptoms associated with the virus.

"The policy concerns any person who starts to exhibit signs and symptoms of the virus that has recently travelled overseas to any country or has been in direct contact with someone known to have the virus. The person must self-isolate for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19."

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

Australia's remaining ODI matches against the Black Caps and the upcoming Twenty20 series have been postponed after the New Zealand government introduced strict travel conditions due to coronavirus.

The cancelation of the series comes as New Zealand enforce a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for those entering the country from midnight on Sunday (local time) amid the global COVID-19 outbreak.

After Australia's 71-run win over New Zealand in Friday's ODI opener played without fans at the SCG, the hosts were due to face the Black Caps in Sydney (Sunday) and Hobart (March 20) for the final two 50-over fixtures.

New Zealand were also set to host a three-match T20 series, starting in Dunedin on March 24, however, the games have been called off as the Black Caps rush home.

"Arrangements are being made to fly the bulk of the squad home this evening [Saturday]," New Zealand Cricket (NZC) said in a statement.

"NZC believes both these series can be replayed in their entirety at a later and more appropriate date.

"NZC understands and supports the government’s position. This is a time of unprecedented risk and peril, and the personal health and well-being of our players is paramount."

New Zealand's border restrictions could also impact the A-League, NRL and Super Rugby competitions.

Coronavirus continues to disrupt sport across the world, with the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, MLS, NBA, NHL, MLB and tennis among the sports on hiatus, while the Formula One's season-opening Australian Grand Prix was cancelled on Friday.

In Australia, there have been almost 200 cases of COVID-19 with three deaths, while New Zealand are yet to record a casualty in six cases so far.

Globally, over 5,400 people have died from the virus following more than 145,000 cases.

With coronavirus spreading across the globe, sports events, tournaments and leagues have been postponed or cancelled en masse. 

On Friday, the Premier League, Bundesliga and Ligue 1 followed the example of LaLiga and Serie A by suspending fixtures, while golf's Masters tournament in the United States was also postponed.

The Giro d'Italia is awaiting a new date, while the NBA, NHL and MLB seasons have all been put on hold.

Planned Six Nations fixtures have also been postponed, including Saturday's clash between Wales and Scotland in Cardiff, while England's tour of Sri Lanka and South Africa's tour of India have been scrapped.

However, despite the upheaval, some events are still set to take place.

FOOTBALL

While most of the major leagues across the globe have been suspended, some are carrying on, though often with mitigating circumstances such as playing behind closed doors.

In Argentina, both the Superliga and Primera A competitions are scheduled to continue, while matches in Australia's A-League are also set to take place. Liga MX remains, and the Russian Premier League is likewise going ahead.

RUGBY LEAGUE

Though Leeds Rhinos' meeting with Catalans Dragons has been postponed, the rest of the Super League fixtures this weekend will be played, as will the Challenge Cup matches, with fans allowed to attend.

In Australia, the first round of NRL fixtures will take place, though the second round will be held behind closed doors, based upon government advice.

CRICKET

The Indian Premier League start date has been pushed back two weeks until mid-April, but the Pakistan Super League has been given the all clear to continue – although a number of players have pulled out, leaving a reduced schedule.

Four matches this weekend precede a pair of semi-finals next week.

There are question marks over Sunday's behind-closed-doors ODI between New Zealand and Australia in Sydney, however, as Black Caps pace bowler Lockie Ferguson is in isolation after complaining of a sore throat.

RUGBY UNION

Wales-Scotland, scheduled for Saturday, was the last of the three planned Six Nations games for this weekend to fall through. The Pro14 and all French rugby union fixtures have also been halted, and Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins belatedly joined the mass cull of fixtures.

There are six Super Rugby matches to look forward to across the course of the weekend, however, despite the Australian government advising against non-essential gatherings.

Meanwhile, the RFU Championship fixture list has also been largely unaffected, the weekend's action starting with Newcastle Falcons' home match against Bedford Blues on Friday.

Pacemen Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were to the fore as Australia claimed a 71-run win over New Zealand in the first ODI of the Chappell-Hadlee Series.

In a match that took place in the surreal environs of a deserted Sydney Cricket Ground – fans were not allowed to attend due to coronavirus measures – Australia captain Aaron Finch and fellow opener David Warner laid a solid foundation with scores of 60 and 67 respectively, combining for an opening stand of 124 in 24 overs.

The hosts wobbled to 165-4 as New Zealand battled back from Lockie Ferguson's (2-60) removal of Warner, with spinners Ish Sodhi (3-51) and Mitchell Santner (2-34) the pick of their attack.

Marnus Labuschagne kept Australia on course for a solid total, however, with a busy 56 from 52 balls that featured only two fours.

Mitchell Marsh added a similarly industrious 27 and the seam-bowling all-rounder chipped in with 3-29 as New Zealand rarely looked like threatening a target of 258-7.

Openers Martin Guptill (40) and Henry Nicholls made glacial progress, unable to get Australia's new ball bowlers away and they were 28-1 when the latter edged Hazlewood (2-37) behind.

The Black Caps' race was effectively run in a three-over period that saw leg-spinner Adam Zampa bowl Kane Williamson for 19, Ross Taylor thrash Marsh to Mitchell Starc at midwicket and Cummins (3-25) remove Guptill courtesy of a fabulous catch by Steve Smith at backward point.

A defiant sixth-wicket stand of 51 between Tom Latham (38) and Colin de Grandhomme (25) was New Zealand's final reason for fleeting optimism before Hazlewood had Latham caught in the deep after drinks and 147-6 began to subside to an eventual 187 all out with nine overs left unused.

Australia paceman Kane Richardson has been tested for coronavirus and will miss the opening ODI against New Zealand on Friday.

Richardson reported a mild sore throat on Thursday and is being quarantined as he awaits the results of his coronavirus test.

The 29-year-old was part of the Australia limited-overs squads that played in South Africa in February and March.

"Our medical staff are treating this as a typical throat infection but we are following Australian Government protocols that require us to keep Kane away from other members of the squad and perform the appropriate tests given he has returned from international travel in the last 14 days," a Cricket Australia spokesperson said, via cricket.com.au.

"Once we receive the results of the tests and Kane recovers in the next few days we expect he will re-join the team.

"We will not be making further comment until something changes."

Sean Abbott has joined the Australia squad as cover.

The three-match ODI series, which begins in Sydney on Friday, will be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus.

Australia's upcoming one-day international series against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Cricket Australia (CA) confirmed that fans will not be allowed into grounds to watch the three-match series, which starts on Friday at the SCG.

Ticket-holders will be given a full refund with no decision yet made over Australia's upcoming three-match Twenty20 international tour of New Zealand.

"Cricket Australia will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation at home and overseas before making a decision on Australian men's international matches beyond the Australian leg of the ODI tournament," said a statement.

It was also confirmed that Australia's World Cup-winning women's side's tour of South Africa has been suspended.

A series of three ODIs and three T20s was set to get under way in Durban on March 22.

"We have taken strong action today in the face of an unprecedented public health issue," said Kevin Roberts, CA's chief executive.

"We believe this is the right decision to minimise the risk of public exposure to the coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic on Thursday.

"We understand that these changes to our schedule will impact many, but we hope our community will understand that the public health and safety issues caused by the coronavirus must take priority over sport at this time. This is not an issue specific to cricket."

Domestic cricket in Australia will continue as scheduled with the Sheffield Shield final to be played on March 27.

Australia captain Meg Lanning praised her team for coming through "tough times" to emphatically win the Women's T20 World Cup on home soil.

Alyssa Healy smashed 75 from 39 balls and opening partner Beth Mooney top-scored with an unbeaten 78 as Australia posted 184-4 in Melbourne, a total that proved well beyond India's reach as they were all out for 99 in reply.

However, while they triumphed by the huge margin of 85 runs in the final, it had not always been plain sailing for Lanning and her squad during the tournament.

They lost to India in their opening match in the group stage and, already without Tayla Vlaeminck due to a fractured foot, were dealt a further blow when Ellyse Perry suffered a hamstring injury against New Zealand.

The duo were still present for the victory over India on Sunday, taking part in the celebrations after Australia were crowned champions for a fifth time in front of a crowd of 86,174 - a new record for a women's cricket match and a female sporting event in Australia.

"I'm just really proud of this group of players and staff," Lanning said at the presentation ceremony.

"We've had everything thrown at us, ups and downs. It was tough, definitely, especially after we lost that first game. There was a lot of expectation on us, inside and out.

"There were definitely some tough times in there, but we stuck with each other, had each other's backs.

"Coming in they [the injured players] were a big part of our plans, we had to go to plan B and C.

"It's been massive, 86,000 people at the MCG, I've never seen it before and didn't think I'd be part of it in the middle."

India were left to rue missed opportunities in the field - Healy was dropped by Shafali Verma in the first over, while they also put down a chance off Mooney during a pivotal 115-run opening stand.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur hopes her players will learn from the experience after reaching the final of the T20 event for the first time.

"We need to focus, especially in fielding," she said. "But I trust this team. It's part of the game, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. You have to keep learning. 

"If we talk about the last T20 World Cup, we got to the semi-finals, and this time to the final. I think we're on the right path.

"Every year we are improving. We just need to think of how we play with focus in the main games. Sometimes we don't manage that."

Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney starred with the bat as Australia eased to an 85-run victory over India in the Women's T20 World Cup final on Sunday.

A crowd of 86,174 – a record for a women's cricket match – witnessed the tournament hosts dominate throughout at the famous MCG.

Australia posted 184-4 after opting to bat first, Mooney top-scoring with an unbeaten 78 from 54 deliveries.

However, it was opening partner Healy who stole the show, capitalising on an early life - she was dropped by Shafali Verma in the first over - to hit the fastest half-century in an ICC final.

Watched by husband Mitchell Starc, who was given permission to leave Australia's tour of South Africa early to be at the game, Healy needed just 39 balls to smash 75.

The right-hander hit seven fours and five sixes - including three in a row during an over from Shikha Pandey - before she was eventually caught at long on, ending a first-wicket stand worth 115 with Mooney.

Chasing such a daunting target, India stumbled out of the blocks. The big-hitting Verma fell to the third ball of their reply, caught behind by wicketkeeper Healy off the bowling of Megan Schutt.

Taniya Bhatia had to retire hurt due to concussion before Jemimah Rodrigues was caught at mid on, leaving the score at 8-2 at the end of the second over.

Deepti Sharma was the only player to provide any real resistance with 33, Schutt finishing with figures of 4-18 as India were bowled out for 99 with five balls remaining.

Despite the absences of Tayla Vlaeminck and Ellyse Perry, who both suffered injuries in the group stage, Australia were crowned T20 champions for a fifth time, albeit this is their first title on home soil.

South Africa-born Marnus Labuschagne made his first ODI century in the country of his birth, yet it came in a losing cause as Australia suffered a series whitewash against the Proteas.

Labuschagne scored 108 out of the tourists' 254-7, bouncing back from a duck in Bloemfontein last time out to reach three figures in Potchefstroom, which is around 40 minutes away from where the batsman grew up before moving Down Under.

Anrich Nortje (2-35) and JJ Smuts (2-42) had kept Australia to a below-par total which never looked like being enough given neither Mitchell Starc nor Pat Cummins were in their attack.

Smuts (84), Kyle Verreynne (50) and the in-form Heinrich Klaasen (68 not out) all registered half-centuries as South Africa claimed a six-wicket win with 27 balls to spare, sealing a 3-0 series victory.

South Africa made a strong start when opener David Warner nicked behind off Nortje on just four and Steve Smith was pinned lbw by Andile Phehlukwayo, the decision remaining with the umpire's call following a review.

The pressure was perhaps telling on Australia captain Aaron Finch, who tore into Labuschagne for turning down a single from the non-striker's end following a brilliant piece of fielding from David Miller.

There was more great work from Miller at short extra cover to remove Finch on 22 as the fielder got his fingers underneath a low chance to give Daryn Dupavillon a maiden ODI wicket.

D’Arcy Short (36) put on 81 alongside Labuschagne before becoming Smuts' first victim and Mitchell Marsh (32) was sent back thanks to more brilliance from Miller, who dived to stop Labuschagne's drive and whipped an underarm throw to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock for a simple run out.

Alex Carey was bowled by Smuts in the same over without scoring but Labuschagne went on to make an emotional century in front of around 50 watching family members.

In reply, South Africa lost both openers to Josh Hazlewood but the lack of Starc, who has returned home to watch wife Alyssa Healy in the Women's T20 World Cup final, and Cummins allowed Smuts and Verreynne to put on 96 for the third wicket.

Both men picked out fielders from mistimed slogs, but Warner was then unable to hang on to a loose shot from Klaasen, who reached his 50 when shelled at mid-on.

Klaasen sealed the victory by going four-four-six off Marsh, taking his tally for the series to 242 runs.

Mitchell Starc has been cleared to miss Australia's final ODI against South Africa to return home and watch his wife Alyssa Healy play in the Women's T20 World Cup final.

Paceman Starc was given the green light to fly back to his homeland to support Healy at the MCG on Sunday when Australia face India.

Australia have lost the series against the Proteas with one match to spare and they will have to do without left-arm quick Starc when they go in search of a consolation win in Potchefstroom on Saturday.

Justin Langer, the Australia head coach, said: "It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Mitch to watch Alyssa in a home World Cup final and so we were happy to allow him to return home to support his wife and be part of a fantastic occasion,

"It is something we have been talking about for a while, given Mitch has had a considerable workload in all three formats this summer. 

"His heading home a couple of days ahead of the rest of the squad means he will have a chance to refresh ahead of our home and away ODIs and Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand that will wrap up our season.

"We have plenty of fast bowling options with us here in South Africa with Josh Hazlewood, Jhye Richardson and Kane Richardson all sitting out our previous match in Bloemfontein, and Mitch's absence will offer one of them an opportunity to impress in Saturday's match."

Australia will defend their Women's T20 World Cup title in the final against India after defeating South Africa in a rain-affected match at the SCG.

The hosts and reigning champions posted 134-5 in a match at first delayed and then truncated by rain, with the earlier semi-final between England and India having been a washout.

While Australia were able to bat their full allocation, their opponents were limited to 13 overs and required 98 runs.

However, they were only able to reach 92-5 as Australia won by five runs, with maiden finalists India up next in Melbourne on Sunday.

Captain Meg Lanning led by example with an unbeaten 49, while disciplined bowling from Megan Schutt (2-17 off three overs) helped to limit a South Africa side for whom Laura Wolvaardt top-scored on 41.

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