The Indian women cricket team is all set to face hosts England at Lord’s on Sunday after defeating Australia by 36 runs in the semi finals at Derby on Thursday. Harmanpreet Kaur made an impeccable unbeaten 171 off 115 balls which is also the highest score by any Indian player in a World Cup knockout match which made way for the 36 run win over the defending champions Australia. This is the second time that India has entered the finals after having lost to Australia in 2005 finals. After the glorious win, Mithali Raj stated, “ As a team, we are all very excited to be part of the final.”
India scored 281 for 4 after the match had to be reduced to 42 overs a side due to the rains. For Harmanpreet Kaur it was only her third ODI century, where she played these memorable innings of amazing batting, hitting 20 fours and 7 sixes, making the journey to the finals easier for team India. It was compared to Kapil Dev’s magnificent 175 against Zimbabwe at Tunbridge Wells back in 1983. It was the second highest score in ODIs for India after Deepti Sharma’s unbeaten 188 against South Africa. From the beginning, the Indian team was confident with Goswami (2/35 in 8 overs) and Shikha Pandey (2/17 in 6 overs) and others who played brilliantly.
Although Elyse Villani’s 75 runs positioned Australia above the required run rate, it took a sad turn for them soon, when she was dismissed in spite of the best efforts of Blackwell (90 off 56 balls) later on who hit 10 fours and 3 sixes.
For Mithali Raj and her team, Derby Ground has proved to be lucky as they have won all five matches here. With repeated magnificent sixes, the score 51 to 100 was reached in just 26 balls as she made 150 from 101 in just 17 balls. Harmanpreet stepped in during the most crucial phase and she had to her advantage, the experience of playing the Women’s Big Bash League for Sydney Thunders which made her acquainted with the Australian attacks. Her footwork against the spinners had been remarkable indeed. Though she was apparently in some discomfort with the side strain, she targeted the on side making a smashing 137 runs which were added in 13.4 overs along with Deepti Sharma for the fourth wicket.
As the Indian team proudly made their way to the finals, Meg Lanning, the Captain of Australia mentioned that there was a lot of areas where her team had to improve and stated, “ it’s definitely a very disappointing finish to the tournament, we came here to win.” She also said, “ we’ve got a fair bit of work to do to make sure we keep getting better to make sure we beat sides like England and India.” And as for Mithali Raj, who hopes to lift up the World Cup trophy this Sunday, stated, “ we knew that this tournament wasn’t going to be easy but the way the girls have turned up at every situation when the team needed, whether it was the batters or bowlers, this win has definitely changed the scenario in terms of how the girls will look up to the final.”