India created history today decimating Australia by 36 runs and winning the semi-final of the World Cup cricket at Derby Cricket Ground. The last minute fireworks by Alex Blackwell couldn’t penetrate the Indian damage. The day belonged to Indian girls who played the unchanged side and dominated the batting, bowling and fielding departments comprehensively.
Indians won the toss in the three-and-a-half hour rain delayed match, which lost eight overs each side. Indian batters scored gingerly in the last 25 overs of the innings, scoring over six runs per over, a rarely seen side of Indian batters in the World Cup so far.
Harmanpreet Kaur’s inning was reminiscent of famous Desert Storm by Sachin Tendulkar against the Australians. Harman batted like a batter possessed. She was the pick of the batters, scoring a whopping 171 in 115 deliveries with 20 fours and seven sixes with almost 150 strike rate.
The Moga girl was ably supported by skipper Mithali, who became the second highest aggregator of the tournament with 392, behind Australia’s Perry who gathered 404 runs. Deepti Sharma rose up to the occasion with a quick 25 runs.
Previous best for India against Australia was 234 in 2009 when Indians came blazing in the same manner. Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Jhulan Gowswami and Poonam Raut all too remember that afternoon clearly.
Australian chasing proved to be the team’s Achilles heel. Wickets fell at regular intervals from the very first over when Shikha Pandey got her first wicket.
Now Indians face home favourites England at the Mecca of Cricket on Sunday 23 July at Lord’s.
Lord’s cricket ground has been a dream for women cricketers especially when the doors were thrown open for them in 2009.
Indians would cherish the final match against England as the team has played over nine World Cup matches without a World Cup final win. This is truly proving out to be a swansong for the greatest servants of women’s cricket in India — Mithali Raj and Jhulan Gowswami.
But the question is can Indians rise to the occasion?