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regular-article-logo Thursday, 25 April 2024

Women’s World Cup: India bow out in last-ball thriller

The match went the full distance with off-spinner Deepti Sharma needing to defend seven runs in the final over

Agencies Christchurch Published 28.03.22, 12:31 AM
India’s Smriti Mandhana on way to her 71 during the Women’s World Cup match against South Africa in Christchurch on Sunday.

India’s Smriti Mandhana on way to her 71 during the Women’s World Cup match against South Africa in Christchurch on Sunday. Getty Images

An inconsistent India crashed out of the Women’s World Cup after suffering a three-wicket defeat against South Africa in a must-win league-stage game that went down to the wire, here on Sunday.

Smriti Mandhana (71), Shafali Verma (53) and skipper Mithali Raj (68) struck half-centuries, setting the platform for India to reach a competitive 274 for seven at the Hagley Oval.

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Despite India’s average bowling and fielding, the match went the full distance with off-spinner Deepti Sharma needing to defend seven runs in the final over. A well-set Mignon du Preez was caught in the deep off the penultimate ball, raising hopes of a memorable win for India.

The Proteas now needed three runs off the final ball. Moments later the umpires ruled that Deepti had overstepped, turning India’s ecstasy into agony in a matter of seconds.

Du Preez eventually hit the winning runs off the final ball and remained unbeaten on 52 to second in the league stage behind Australia. As it panned out, Australia, South Africa, England and West Indies reached the last four stage.

In possibly her last match for India, skipper Mithali Raj was left devastated along with her teammates.

India were not consistent enough to make the semi-finals and ended fifth in the league stage with three wins and four losses.

South Africa were cruising in their run chase with the in-form Laura Wolvaardt (80 off 79) and Lara Goodall (49 off 69) sharing 125 runs for the second wicket.

India rely heavily on veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami for early breakthroughs and her absence due to a side strain made the task easier for the South Africans.

Harmanpreet Kaur, who made 48 with the bat, got rid of opener Lizelle Lee (6) with a brilliant direct hit before Wolvaardt and Goodall got together and took the game away from the opposition.

Wolvaardt continued her sensational run of form with her fifth fifty-plus score in seven innings. It took a double strike from Harmanpreet to bring India back in the game as she found the stumps of Wolvaardt and trapped Sune Luus (22) with her probing off-spin.

The Indian fielding once again was sloppy and the late evening dew made the job tougher for them. However, the individual brilliance of Harmanpreet helped India take the game deep with South Africa needing 45 off the last 30 balls.

Du Preez, who was dropped by Smriti in the 45th over, and Chloe Tyron (17) were up for the challenge and took their team to the cusp of victory. Tyron got three boundaries in the 47th over bowled by Gayakwad to reduce the equation to 20 off 18 balls.

Earlier, India chose to put runs on the board in the high-pressure game while their opponents took the field in their last league game having already qualified for the semi-finals.

Shafali (53 off 46) and Smriti (71 off 84) shared a 91-run stand off 90 balls for the opening wicket to provide the start India were looking for.

Shafali scored the bulk of the runs in the partnership with Smriti and looked at her fluent best en route to her maiden World Cup fifty. She put South Africa’s best bowler, pacer Shabnim Ismail, under pressure by attacking her from the word go.

Shafali collected three boundaries off Shabnim’s second over including an audacious walk across the off-stump to whip the South African bowler over short-fine leg. The 18-year-old completed her first fifty of the competition with a boundary over mid-on off pacer Masabata Klaas.

Defending champions crush Bangla

Defending champions England booked their place in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup with a 100-run win over Bangladesh here on Sunday. Sophia Dunkley’s 72-ball 67 helped the reigning champions post 234 for six at Basin Reserve and a polished bowling performance, led by Sophie Ecclestone’s economical spell of 3/15, meant Bangladesh never threatened to rein in England’s total and were bowled out for 134 in the 48th over.

England have now won four matches on the trot, having more than made up for their slow start to the tournament with a string of impressive performances.

Experienced seamer Anya Shrubsole was rested on Sunday, paving the way for Charlie Dean (3/31) and Freya Davies (2/36) to show their prowess.

Brief scores: England Women 234/6 in 50 overs (S. Dunkley 67; S. Khatun 2/46). Bangladesh Women: 134 all out in 48 overs (L. Mondal 30; Sophie Ecclestone 3/15, C. Dean 3/31). England Women won by 100 runs. (PTI)

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