Xtra Time Web Desk: A brilliant fifty from Harmanpreet Kaur went in vain as Australia defeated India by 5 runs in a thrilling semi-final of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 at the Newlands stadium on Thursday. Batting first Australia posted a daunting 172/4 with Beth Mooney leading the way with 54 runs, while captain Meg Lanning remaining not out on 49 runs. Indian batters Jemima Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur raised hopes of an Indian win, but a catalogue of errors ultimately made their chase a mountain too high to climb.
Australia’s attacking intent was clear from ball one as Alyssa Healy scored an attacking 25 runs before getting stumped off Radha Yadav. Healy and Lanning put on 52 runs for the opening wicket.
Two drops in two overs brought India back down to earth as Lanning survived on one in the eighth over as Richa Ghosh shelled a tricky chance behind the stumps. Shafali Verma dropped a regulation catch on the long-on boundary as the ball went through her hands and for four with Mooney on 32 from 25.
The left-hander brought up her half-century from just 34 balls as she took Pandey for back-to-back boundaries, the first to be conceded off her bowling.
Pandey got her revenge three balls later as Mooney went for 54 from 37 with seven fours and a six, but what followed was total Australian demolition as Lanning and Ash Gardner crashed 38 runs between the 15th and 17th over, with Jemimah Rodrigues also throwing to the wrong end with Gardner surely gone for 29.
Gardner eventually departed an over later for 31 before Grace Harris was bowled for seven from four balls for Pandey’s second wicket as she recorded figures of two for 32.
With nine balls left, there was still time for a late flurry from Lanning who scored a crucial six off the final ball to end on 49 not out as Australia set India 173 to win.
India started positively in their chase, taking Gardner for ten runs off the first over before Megan Schutt halted Verma’s progress, dismissing her leg before wicket.
Another review an over later gave the dangerous Smriti Mandhana out leg before wicket having made just two before Yastika Bhatia was run out having set off on a run that was never there to leave India at 28 for three.
The rebuild was emphatic, however, as Kaur showed no signs of the illness that had threatened her participation, combining with Rodrigues to put on 69 runs for the fourth wicket.
Summing up India’s day, the sublime was followed by the maddening as Rodrigues played a beautiful shot to the boundary before she was caught behind attempting a ramp at a wide ball from Darcie Brown.
The right-hander left the field furious with herself but having given India hope with her 43 from 24.
Kaur looked to continue in the same manner, riding her luck as she dropped by Healy on 36 before bringing up her half-century with a sweep.
Her innings ended in desperate fashion as she was run out, her bat stuck in the ground inches from safety, to leave India needing 40 runs from 32 balls.
Then, just as Ghosh got into her stride she was caught by the steady hands of Tahlia McGrath, and while Deepti Sharma and Sneh Rana put India within touching distance, Rana’s departure to leave 16 off the final over was not close enough.
Australia 172/4 in 20 overs (Beth Mooney 54, Meg Lanning 49 not out; Shikha Pandey 2/32)
India 167/8 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 52; Darcie Brown 2/18, Ashleigh Gardner 2/37)