The second semi-final of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 was played between defending champions Australia and India at the County Ground, Derby, on Thursday. Australia were clear favorites to advance to the final and meet their arch-rivals England but a player named Harmanpreet Kaur spoiled the party. India stunned Australia by 36 runs to reach their second World Cup final since 2005.
The match was reduced to 42 overs per side due to inclement weather. Mithali Raj won the toss and much to everyone’s surprise chose to bat first. India lost their opener Smriti Mandhana in the first over for 6 and Punam Raut for 14 in the tenth over. India were 35 for 2 when captain Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur decided to stitch a partnership of 66 runs to get India back on track. These two took their time, played quite a few dot balls and moved the score to 101 before Raj was clean bowled by Beams in the twenty-fifth over. After this it was all about Harmanpreet Kaur, she batted as if she was possessed by some batting God. She batted, batted and kept on batting till the very end. Kaur and Deepti Sharma smashed 137 runs off just 83 balls for the fourth wicket, Kaur scoring 106 of those 137 runs. The Aussie bowlers looked clueless, helpless and all they could do was just watch the ball being smacked all over the park. India scored 129 runs from their last 10 overs to post a target of 282 for the loss of only 4 wickets. Harmanpreet Kaur’s 171* ensured that Australia would have to register a record chase in World Cup history to reach the final. If one team could do this, it was Australia but today wasn’t meant to be. They fell short by 36 runs, if it wasn’t for Alex Blackwell’s spirited knock of 90(56) and Elyse Villani’s 75(58), the margin of defeat would’ve been much more painful. Deepti Sharma took three wickets, fast bowlers Goswami and Pandey took two each.
India took their group stage revenge in style, Australia weighed down India by eight wickets in the group stage. The six-time World Cup champions would not have expected this at all, this was also their only game at Derby and they couldn’t win it. India on the other hand didn’t lose a single game at this venue; they maintained their winning streak at this ground. India will face the three time champions and hosts England in the final on Sunday in front of a sell-out crowd at Lord’s.
Ausralia v India ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 Full Match Highlights
Only something even more magical by the Australian batters could have trumped this once in a lifetime innings by Harmanpreet Kaur. There was no more magic, the world will have to remember this knock as one of the finest ever played by anyone in a World Cup match. Harmanpreet Kaur started her innings cautiously, scored fifty off sixty-four balls, after that some cricketing God cast a spell on her: she accelerated faster than a Ferrari and raced on to a hundred off just twenty-six balls, scored her next fifty runs off seventeen and her last twenty-one runs off just eight balls. She smacked 20 fours and 7 sixes and scored her last 147 runs at a run-rate of 13.08 per over. The rest of the Indian team only scored 110 runs. Kaur was chosen as the player of the match, like there was any other contender.
Veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami did everything right today; from taking wickets to bowling dot balls to holding onto catches and to running players out. Her ball to get rid of the Aussie captain Meg Lanning who also happens to be the Number 1 batter in the world for a duck was a piece of art; that back of a length delivery angled in and then straightened to square up Lanning and hit the top of off-stump. You’d want to watch that ball again and again. Her other scalp was wicket-keeper batter Alyssa Healy.
Meg Lanning falls to Jhulan Goswani for a duck
Alyssa Healy falls to Jhulan Goswami for 5