Stunning Win Over Australia Guides India to Second World Cup Final
A historical knock by Harmanpreet guided India to a memorable win against Australia in the ICC World Cup semi-final.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s unbelievable knock and a stunning bowling performance helped India storm into the ICC World Cup final as they beat Australia by 36 runs in Derby on Thursday.
Indian vice-captain Harmanpreet smashed her way to a career-best 171 off 115 balls as India put up an imposing 281 for 4 after rain reduced the match to 42 overs a side. They then bowled Australia out for 245 with 11 balls remaining.
It is only the second time that India have entered the summit clash of the global event, having lost to Australia in the final of the 2005 edition. Skipper Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami were part of the Indian team which had lost then in Centurion.
The women in blue will meet hosts England in the final at Lord's on Sunday.
Coming in at No.4, Harmanpreet fiery knock helped bail out India, once tottering at 35/2 after losing both the openers – Smriti Mandhana (6) and Punam Raut (14) inside the first 10 overs.
She was involved in two crucial partnerships – 66 runs with skipper Mithali Raj (36 from 61 balls) for the third wicket and then a 137-run fourth wicket stand with Deepti Sharma (25 from 35) – to change the complexion of the game.
After the skipper’s dismissal, Deepti played the perfect second fiddle to Harman who was at her attacking best but needed someone to support her at the other end.
The Punjab right-hander, who’s knock included a massive 20 fours and seven sixes, got to her third ODI hundred in just 90 balls before launching most of the Aussie bowlers out of the park.
The milestone from 51 to 100 was reached in 26 balls while she raced to 150 from 101 in just 17 balls.
And such was her focus that once she scampered home for a double to complete her hundred, she was seen shouting at Deepti after she flung her helmet in disgust.
She regained her composure, said sorry to a teary-eyed junior and like a woman on mission completely annihilated the opposition bowlers finishing the match as contest by the time they went into the break.
The fall of Deepti brought in Veda Krishnamurthy (16 from 10) who along with Harmanpreet added a 19-ball unbeaten stand of 43 runs, as India put up their highest ever total against the Southern Stars.
India put on a collective effort on the field as the Southern Stars failed to get going in the initial stages of their chase. They lost the top order comprising the in-form trio of Nicole Bolton (14), Beth Mooney (1) and skipper Meg Lanning (0) for almost nothing on the board.
Thereafter, Elyse Villani (75) and Ellyse Perry (38) joined forces to 105-run fourth wicket stand that threatened to take the match away from the grasps of the Indians.
It was the once again left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad who turned the tide in favour of Indians with the key wicket of Villani.
It was one-way traffic thereafter for the women-in-blue as wickets kept tumbling at regular intervals and none of the lower order Aussie batswomen, barring Alex Blackwell (90 from 56) managed to intimidate the Indians.
The Indians struggled to dismiss Blackwell who refused to budge and together with the No.11-batswoman Kirsten Beams (11 not out) added 76 runs for the final wicket.
There were a few nail-biting moments towards the later part of the innings, but Deepti kept her calm, cleaning Blackwell's middle stump and seal India's place in the final.
For India, left-arm spinner Deepti Sharma emerged the pick of the bowlers with three wickets while veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami and her partner Shikha Pandey took two wickets apiece. The spin duo of Rajeshwari Gayakwad and Poonam Yadav chipped in with one wicket apiece.
While the the Derby Ground proved to be a happy hunting one for Mithali Raj and her team as they won all five matches there, it would be interesting to see whether the Indians are able to take out the hosts at Lord’s on Sunday.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS.)
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