Christchurch, March 27
An inconsistent India crashed out of the ICC Women’s World Cup after suffering a heartbreaking three-wicket defeat to South Africa in a must-win league stage game that went down right to the wire here today.
Smriti Mandhana (71), Shafali Verma (53) and skipper Mithali Raj (68) struck half-centuries, setting the platform for India to reach a competitive 274/7 at the Hagley Oval. Despite India’s average bowling and fielding, the match lasted 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. However, moments later the umpires ruled that Sharma had overstepped, souring India’s ecstasy in a matter of seconds. Du Preez eventually hit the winning runs off the final ball and remained unbeaten on 52 as South Africa finished 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 Raj was left devastated along with her teammates. “I’m just trying to get a hang of how the match has gone through,” Raj said. “When you have a disappointment and in the campaign which ends like this in a World Cup where you’ve really prepared very hard over a year, it takes time to accept and then probably move on from there,” she added.
India were not consistent enough to make the semifinals and ended fifth in the league stage with three wins and four losses.
Wolfaardt on mark again
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.
Raj felt sorry for Goswami as she missed out on a crucial match. “I’m sure she would have made a difference, with so many years of experience playing different teams and different surfaces, similar pressure situations. Having a senior player like her to lead the bowling attack clearly would have made a difference,” she said.
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.
Wolvaardt continued her sensational run of form with her fifth fifty-plus scores in seven innings. It took a double strike from Kaur to bring India back into the game as she found the stumps of Wolvaardt and trapped Sune Luus (22) with her probing off-spin.
The Indian fielding was sloppy once again and late evening dew made the job tougher for them. However, the individual brilliance of Kaur helped India take the game deep with South Africa needing 45 off the last 30 balls.
Du Preez, who was dropped by Mandhana in the 45th over, and Chloe Tyron (17) were up for the challenge and took their team to victory.
Brief Scores: India: 274/7 in 50 overs (Mandhana 71, Raj 68; Klaas 2/38); South Africa: 275/7 in 50 overs (Wolvaardt 80, du Preez 52; Kaur 2/42). — PTI
England run over Bangladesh in 100-run win
Heather Knight’s England thumped Bangladesh by 100 runs to make the last-four in a remarkable turnaround after beginning their title defense with three successive defeats. England rode Sophia Dunkley’s 72-ball 67 to post 234/6 and Sophie Ecclestone (3/15) led the attack as they bundled out Bangladesh for 134. I’m really pleased, I probably would have liked a few more runs, 250- 260, but the wicket was very slow,” said Knight. Reuters
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