India handed Australia a crushing 36-run defeat to book the final date with England at Lord’s on Sunday bowling out the defending champions for 245 in the rain-curtailed encounter. Earlier, an outstanding innings from Harmanpreet Kaur (171*) helped India put up a monstrous total of 281 in 42 overs.
Brief scores: India Women 281/4 (42 overs) (Harmanpreet Kaur 171*, Mithali Raj 36; Elyse Villani 1/19) beat Australia Women 245/10 (Alex Blackwell 90, Elyse Villani 75; Deepti Sharma 3/59) by 36 runs.
India won the toss in the second semi-final and decided to set a target for the Australians after a three-hour delay in the start that resulted in the match reduced to 42 overs a side. While India came in with an unchanged XI from their match against New Zealand, Australian skipper Meg Lanning came in for Rachael Haynes.
Mithali and Harmanpreet stabilize Indian innings after shaky start
Smriti Mandhana and Punam Raut started the proceedings for India with the former looking promising with her initial cover drives and back-foot punches. However, the picture soon changed when Mandhana lobbed the ball into the hands of Elyse Villani off a Megan Schutt delivery in the very first over of the innings. The duo of Mithali Raj and Punam Raut were then burdened with the responsibility of rebuilding the Indian innings and the pair seemed to be going about their task with ease until Raut hit an Ashleigh Gardner delivery straight into the hands of Beth Mooney. Harmanpreet Kaur came out onto the crease next as India finished the first 10 overs with the scoreboard reading 36-2. The duo kept rotating the strike while dismissing the bad deliveries to the boundary although they missed out on numerous freebies given away by the Aussies as India reached the halfway mark of their innings with 77-2 on the board.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s explosive power-hitting propels India to 281
Kaur and Raj continued dealing in singles and brought up their 50-run partnership in the 22nd over and looked comfortably set on the crease with an eye on a competitive total. However, the hopes of India getting there received a huge blow when their in-form skipper was bowled out at 36 by Kristen Beams shortly after India reached the 100-run mark. Meanwhile, Kaur decided to break the shackles and smashed Beams for 13 runs in the 27th over. On the other hand, the new
Australian top order topples but Elyse Villani keeps their hopes alive
Shikha Pandey once again got India their first breakthrough in the second over of the Australian innings piercing through Beth Mooney’s
India bowlers tear apart the Australian batting to seal the finals spot
Villani started looking more dangerous with the pair bringing on their 100-run partnership in the 22nd over. However, Rajeshwari Gayakwad had other plans in her mind as she sent Villani packing to reignite the chants of the Indian fans in the Derby stands. A spell of quiet overs followed Villani’s wicket as the required run rate started to creep up piling pressure on the defending champions. The pressure soon became overbearing for Perry who edged a Pandey delivery into the gloves of Sushma Verma behind the stumps. Alyssa Healy soon followed her compatriot as Australia seemed to have lost their way in the game. From then on, runs dried up for the defending champions leading to the 7th wicket in Ashleigh Gardner that made their chase look an uphill battle with the Australians needing over 10.50 runs per over. It was then just a matter of time before the Indian bowling brought down curtains on the Australian innings but it looked like Alex Blackwell is just delaying India’s celebrations clobbering the Indian bowlers for what looked like a lost cause. The inevitable happened in the 40th over when Deepti Sharma dismissed Blackwell and helped India reached its second final in the history of the ICC Women’s World Cup.