Harmanpreet Kaur’s magnificent half century went in vain as India Women went down by 5 runs to Australia in the first semi final of the T20 World Cup at Newlands in Cape Town on Thursday.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, openers Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney got Australia off to a solid start. The pair added 52 runs for the opening wicket before Radha Yadav broke the partnership by dismissing Healy (25), stumped by wicket keeper Richa Ghosh.
Meg Lanning got a reprieve on 1 when wicket-keeper Ghosh failed to hold on to a catch off Sneh Rana. In the very next over Shafali Verma also dropped a relatively simple catch at long on offered by Mooney on 32 (off the bowling of Radha)
However Shafali finally managed to hold on to a catch by dismissing the well-set Mooney off Shikha Pandey for 54, but the damage had been done by then, with the southpaw’s acceleration having set the stage for a strong finish.
Lanning along with Ashleigh Gardner added 53 runs for the third wicket before the latter was bowled by a Deepti Sharma yorker for a quickfire 18-ball 31.
Grace Harris (7) had her stumps shattered by Pandey in the quest for quick runs, but Lanning (49)* provided the necessary late flourish at the end, hitting Renuka Singh Thakur for two sixes and a four in the final over to take Australia to a competitive total of 172/4 in their 20.
Chasing 173, India got off to a horrible start when Shafali was dismissed LBW by Megan Schutt for 9.
Gardner then got into the act by claiming the prize scalp of vice-captain Smriti Mandhana (2), again trapped LBW.
Yastika Bhatia was then run out for 4 following a horrible mix up with Jemimah Rodrigues. The pair of Rodrigues and skipper Harmanpreet Kaur however brought the innings back on track with a valuable fourth wicket stand of 69 runs before the former perished to Darcie Brown for a 24-ball-43, while attempting to ramp a bouncer over the keeper’s head.
Kaur reached a well deserved fifty off just 32 balls. However she was run-out in extremely unlucky fashion as her bat got stuck in the ground while attempting a second run. When she was dismissed, India needed 40 off 32- very achievable in the modern game, but Ghosh (14) was then caught in the deep by Tahlia McGrath off Brown as their chase went off the tracks.
India needed 20 off the final two overs, but Deepti failed to take her team past the finishing line as they ended up with 167/8 in their allotted 20 overs, five short of the 172 made by Australia.
With this, the defending champions reached their seventh successive T20 World Cup final.
Australia 172/4 (Mooney 54, Lanning 49* | Pandey 2-32) beat India 167/8 (Harmanpreet 52, Rodrigues 43 | Brown 2-18) by five runs.