Women’s T20 World Cup: Australia beat India by 5 runs to enter seventh straight final

NEW DELHI: India went down fighting against defending champions Australia in their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final match on Thursday, losing a closely-fought contest by five runs in Newlands, Cape Town.
Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur (52 off 34) scored a magnificent fifty, and added a valuable 69 runs for the fourth wicket with Jemimah Rodrigues (43 off 24), but failed to take India home. Chasing a challenging 173-run target, India’s lower-order batters succumbed to pressure and could manage just 167 for 8 in their 20 overs.
As it happened: India vs Australia
India had a terrible start to their run chase, losing three quick wickets to be stranded at 28 for 3 inside four overs, before Harmanpreet and Jemimah revived the chase. Harmanpreet then stitched a quick 36 runs with Richa Ghosh to put India on course, but an unlucky run-out tipped the scales in favour of the Aussies in the 15th over.
Going for a second run, Harmanpreet was run-out after her bat got stuck in the ground just before the crease and it gave Australia the opening they were looking for.

India were comfortably placed at 132/4 in 14.3 overs before the run-out, needing 41 off 33 balls with six wickets in hand. But they lost the momentum after the run-out and Australia sealed their seventh successive T20 World Cup final.
Earlier, India’s shoddy fielding and catching allowed Australia to post a challenging 172 for four after Meg Lanning opted to bat in the semifinal.
Even after Harmanpreet’s wicket, India needed a very gettable 39 off the last 30 balls with five wickets in hand but as it has been the case in the past, the team came up short.

India had lost to five-time champions Australia in the previous World Cup final and more recently in the CWG final last year. Another loss in a knockout game extended India’s long wait for a world title.
Despite losing the destructive Shafali Verma and star batter Smriti Mandhana cheaply, Jemimah and India skipper ensured boundaries. Harmanpreet, who was a doubtful starter for the do-or-die game due to high fever, got going with a crisp six over long on off Jess Jonassen.
Rodrigues looked in sublime touch from the get go, dispatching Ashleigh Gardner for consecutive fours off her first two balls. Her inside out lofted drives over extra cover off the spinners was the highlight of her innings.
At 93 for three in 10 overs, India were very much on course for a famous win. Jemimah and Harmanpreet’s omnious stand ended when the former tried to a guide a slow bouncer Darcie Brown but ended up edging it to the wicketkeeper.

Harmanpreet, who is known to bring out her best against the Aussies, looked at her vintage best with her sizzling strokeplay. Like Jemimah, she too made good use of her feet to get the fours.
She got to her fifty with back-to-back fours off Wareham in the 15th over before a freak run out brought another twist in the game.
It was a comfortable double but on the way to completing the second run, Harmanpreet’s bat got stuck in the ground and Alyssa Healy was quick to take the bails off with the Indian out of the crease.
It was the turning point of the game.
India’s bowling effort also left a lot to be desired as Beth Mooney extended her envious record against India with a classy 54 off 37 balls.
One of the best power-hitters in the game, Ashleigh Gardner, hurt India with 31 off 18 balls while skipper Meg Lanning made 49 not out off 34 balls.
Australia opted to bat at a sunny Newlands and Harmanpreet did not seem to mind Lanning’s call.
There was no swing on offer, making life a lot difficult for star pacer Renuka Thakur, whose first ball of the game was a half volley to Alyssa Healy (25 off 26) and she duly put it away.
Healy is usually the aggressor in her opening partnerships with Mooney but it wasn’t the case on this occasion.
It was Mooney who got the boundaries more regularly in their 52-run stand as she manoeuvred the field beautifully with her nimble footwork against the spinners. Shafali dropped a regulation catch off Mooney at long on when she was on 32.
Deepti, India’s most consistent spinner in the tournament, bowled too short in her opening spell. Her second over went for 12 runs as Mooney stepped out for a six over wide long off.
Besides the inconsistent line and length, poor fielding and catching cost India a lot of runs.
Lanning, who was dropped early in her innings, made India pay with an unbeaten 49 off 34 balls. She collected two sixes and a four in the 20th over bowled by Renuka, who went wicketless in her four overs and conceded 41 runs.
Sneh Rana, playing in place of Pooja Vastrakar, was unfortunate not to pick any wicket as she troubled the batters with her flight. She could have had Lanning caught behind in her first over but wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh dropped the chance. Richa also fluffed a stumping chance off Lanning.
The last five overs yielded 59 runs for Australia.
(With inputs from PTI)

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