T20 Women’s World Cup: Indian dream over with loss to Australia

India once again fell short in the knockouts, as they suffered a 5-run loss against the Australians

NEW DELHI | Updated: 24 February, 2023 12:23 am IST
India's inability to seize the moment cost them dear (Photo Courtesy Twitter @ICC)

It was the fourth ball of the 19th over of the Indian innings when Renuka Singh was seen with her hands on her head after the loss of Radha Yadav.

The image spoke volumes. The 27-year-old pacer, who took big strides this season and was the team’s most successful bowler in the tournament, must be thinking of the last over she bowled.

Singh bowled two full tosses – both met the same fate with Meg Lanning dispatching them over the boundary rope – and cost 18 runs to the team as Australia reached 172 after electing to bat first in the first semi-final of the T20 Women’s World Cup in Cape Town on Thursday, February 23.

The truth is: India were somehow clumsy on field – they let 15 runs slip through fingers. They also dropped two crucial catches – Meg Lanning (1) and Beth Mooney (32) – and both Lanning and Mooney punish their rivals with decisive performance.

India missed seam-bowling all-rounder Pooja Vastrakar. Her replacement, Sneh Rana, was a spin all-rounder. But that will be more of an excuse than anything else.

The fact is despite their impressive performances at times, India were patchy in their wins. Against the mighty Australians, they needed to lift their game. Unfortunately, they could not, despite the close margin of defeat – India lost the match by just five runs.

One of the key factors in India’s wins has been the performance of its top-order batters. On Thursday, India lost Shafali Verma, who will feel unlucky, Smriti Mandhana, India’s batting mainstay, and Yastika Bhatia returned to hut by the fifth over with the team tottering at 28 for three.

Skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, who too was unwell but decided to turn up for the big match, and talented but patchy Jemimah Rodrigues patched up a 69-run stand for the fourth wicket that rekindled India’s fading hope.

Harmanpreet Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues raised India’s hopes (Photo Courtesy Twitter @ICC)

 

But all the hard work Rodrigues put in was undone by one moment of rash thinking as she fell after a whirlwind 24-ball 43 that saw six hits to the boundary. Her frustration spoke volumes.

With Kaur and the young Richa Ghosh, one of the most talked-about batters known for her hard hitting, India still had hope. But it was Australia that upped the ante when it mattered most.

Even when the Indian middle and lower orders were challenging their bowling, Australia raised the bar with their impressive ground fielding.

Rana swept left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen behind square for what should have been a sure boundary in the fourth ball of the 19th over. But out of blue, 32-year-old Ellyse Perry produced a moment of brilliance to save two runs.

Earlier, Kaur succumbed to the Australian habit of making every opportunity count, falling short of a throw from Beth Mooney. India’s hopes vanish with Kaur.

Richa was circumspect, while Deepti Sharma, who was left stranded with a 17-ball 20 that saw two fours, and Sneh Rana tried their best.

But in the end, it was the Australians who showed steely nerves that held them in good stead as India managed 167 for 8 from 20 overs.

While Australians seized the moments, Indians let them slip through their fingers as the lives given to Mooney and Lanning scorched them. Mooney top-scored with 37-ball 54, which included seven fours and a six, and skipper Lanning remained unbeaten with 34-ball 49 – an innings that saw six boundaries, including two sixes.

Player of the match, Ashleigh Gardner, took a toothless Indian bowling attack to the cleaners with an 18-ball 31 with five hits to the boundary.

At 141 for three in the 17.5 over, India still had a chance, but 31 runs in 13 balls turned out to be the death knell to Indian hopes as they once again fell short when it mattered the most.

BRIEF SCORES: Australia 172/4 (Beth Mooney 54, Meg Lanning 49*, Ashleigh Gardner 31, Alyssa Healy 25; Shikha Pandey 2/32) beat India 167/8 (Harmanpreet Kaur 52, Jemimah Rodrigues 43, Deepti Sharma 20*; Darcie Brown 2/18, Ashleigh Gardner 2/37) by 5 runs

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