India make final after Harmanpreet Kaur, bowlers overwhelm Australia

Australia captain Meg Lanning is an injury doubt for the World Cup semi-final against India in Derby on Thursday.

Brief scores: India 281/4 in 42 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 171* off 115 balls; Ashleigh Gardner 1/43) beat Australia (Alex Blackwell 90 off 56, Elyse Villani 75 off 58; Deepti Sharma 3/59, Shikha Pandey 2/17) by 36 runs.

After a three-hour delay to proceedings due to early morning showers, when India eventually won the toss it was no surprise to see them elect to make first use of the Derby surface, having won all four of their games on the ground during the tournament when batting first. In fact, I think the pressure will be more on Australia. This is overall the fourth semifinal for India in ICC World Cup history. She also is second behind Mithali among India's leading run-getters in the tournament.

However they were left in a perilous position when opener Smrti Mandhana (six) departed in the first over and Punam Raut (14) joined her in the pavilion not long after.

Harmanpreet Kaur blasted 171 not out in India's women's Cricket World Cup victory over Australia. They lost the top order comprising the in-form trio of Nicole Bolton (14), Beth Mooney (1) and skipper Meg Lanning (0) for nearly nothing on the board. She showed glimpses of her form in India's must-win game against New Zealand, where she stroked a sumptuous 60. They have never gone out of the world cup without reaching the semi finals.

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Meanwhile, Australia have made one change with Meg Lanning coming in place of Rachael Haynes. The six-time world champion Australia have been clinical throughout the tourament with just one loss to its name. She even went past her captain Mithali Raj's score of 109 to register the highest score by an Indian player in World Cup.

Under the floodlights in overcast conditions, Kaur was forced to be watchful as she and Raj slowly played India into the match but spinner Kristen Beams bowled the former for 36.

Cricket fans are expecting the Indian girls to bring the silverware home and the team looks determined to do the same. When India played Australia in the league stage, the latter won the match with consummate ease.

Kaur continued to attack in a merciless display of hitting, requiring 26 balls to move from her half-century to triple figures, when she was nearly run out scampering a two to reach the landmark.

  • Tabitha Byrd