So close, yet so far! Well, this is not the first time India have floundered in a knockout encounter after being in a solid position, allowing Australia to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and progress to yet another final.
Opting to bat, Australia were 69/1 at the end of 10 overs but went berserk in the second half of the innings, slamming 103 runs. In reply, India lost Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana and Yastika Bhatia inside four overs but that’s when Jemimah Rodrigues (24-ball 43) and Harmanpreet Kaur (34-ball 52) took control of the game.
The two batters put up a masterclass and took the attack to Australia, putting up a 69-run stand for the fourth wicket. The Women in Blue were 93/3 at the end of the 10-over mark, needing 80 runs off 60 deliveries. However, Rodrigues departed in the very next over but Harmanpreet kept the required rate under control.
Just when it looked like the Indian captain would finish the game for her team, Harmanpreet was run-out in an unlucky manner. The right-hander slog-swept one towards deep mid-wicket, which had easy two runs written all over it. However, when she back jogging back for the second run, her bat got stuck before the crease and that allowed Alyssa Healy to run her out.
Australia then took full control of the game and emerged victorious by five runs. “Can't be unluckier than this, to get that momentum back when me and Jemi were batting. And to lose after that, we didn't expect this today. The way I got run-out, can't be unluckier than that,” said Harmanpreet at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“Putting in the effort was more important. We discussed about fighting till the last ball. The result didn't go our way, but I am happy with the way we played in this tournament. We know we have a good batting line-up even if we lose early wickets.
“Need to give credit to Jemi for the way she batted today. She got us the momentum we were looking for. Happy to see such performances. Happy to see them play their natural game. We even though we didn't play to our strengths, we reached the semis. We gave those easy catches away. Got to take those when you want to win. We misfielded. We can only learn from these lessons and not repeat the mistakes.”
Meanwhile, Australia once again showed everyone why they have been almost invincible in this era. Skipper Meg Lanning, who scored 49* off 34 deliveries, said they never panicked even when Rodrigues and Harmanpreet were all going all guns blazing. “One of the best wins I have been involved in. To fight back from well behind and win despite not playing our best cricket. Great fighting spirit from the girls, couldn't be more proud of them,” said Lanning.
“We missed out lengths and gave width at times. India came hard at us and they have got some incredible players. Came right down to the wire and we had to seize those clutch moments. Certainly holds us in good stead for the final. We stayed in the game and that's what you got to do under pressure. We didn't execute as well as we would have liked, but we never panicked.”
Australia’s spin-bowling all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner was named Player of the Match. The 25-year-old first slammed 31 off 18 deliveries and then took 2/37 in the second innings, also bowling two of the last four overs. “Bowling the last over, my average heart rate is probably like 190,” said Gardner.
“We probably weren't in a winning position and that's when this team does best. When our backs are up against the wall, we find a way and we scrap really hard and that's what we did today with the ball. I think we set up the game really well with the bat, probably missed a few with the ball but I think that fight we showed shows the character of this team.”