Derby, July 21: India on Friday crushed defending champions Australia by 36 runs and swiftly entered into the finals of ICC Women's World Cup at Derby in England. Harmanpreet Kaur’s sensational knock of 171 runs clobbered the opposition mercilessly to help set the defending champions a 282-run target in the ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final. The Jhulan Goswami-led attack then bowled Australia out for 245.
Notably, after winning the toss, India opted to bat first India posted a mammoth total of 281 for 4 against Australia in the rain-truncated second semifinals match. For India, Harmanpreet Kaur top scored with a blistering century of unbeaten 171 runs, the third highest individual score by any player in the World Cup and fifth highest overall. Mithali Raj contributed 36 runs.
However, the match was reduced to 42-over-a-side due to rain which delayed it by over three hours. In reply, Australian team 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.
Ellyse Perry and Villani then stitched a 105-run partnership to keep Australia in the game. While on 75, Villani struck Rajeshwari Gayakwad towards mid-on and Mandhana took a good catch to end the flourishing partnership. And 14 runs later, Pandey re-introduced into the attack, sent Perry back. The batter edged the ball and Sushma Verma took a low catch to leave Australia on 140 for five.
With the pressure building up, Alyssa Healy looking to up the ante departed hitting Goswami to mid-on leaving Australia on 148 for six. Poonam Yadav then followed up with the wicket of Gardner and in the next over, Jonassen backing up way out of her crease was run out at the non-striker's end. After Alex Blackwell hit back the ball hard, Goswami got a hand to it and it crashed into the stumps.
Megan Schutt then hit Deepti to midwicket and followed her back an over later. Against all odds, Alex Blackwell launched a counterattack and got Australia close with her audacious hitting. She struck three sixes and 10 fours to race to 90 off just 56 balls before being bowled by Deepti in the first ball of the 41st over.
Harmanpreet Kaur was adjudged as Player of the Match for her match-winning unbeaten 171-run knock off 115 balls. India will now face hosts England in the title clash on Sunday. In the first semi-final, three-time champions England had defeated South Africa by 2 wickets. Interestingly, India had played the Final of the World Cup only once in the 2005 edition, when they lost to the Aussies.
Cricket legends including Sachin Tendulkar, Ravi Shastri, Suresh Raina, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma, VVS Laxman, Mohammad Kaif, Virender Sehwag, R Ashwin and many others congratulated Indian women’s team and hailed Harmanpreet’s merciless innings against Australia on Twitter.
Score Card: India women 281 for 4 (Kaur 171*, Raj 36) beat Australia women (Blackwell 90, Villani 75, Deepti 3-59) by 36 runs