Batting first after winning the toss, Australia Women posted an impressive 172/4 in their 20 overs. Beth Mooney top-scored with 54 off 37 balls, while skipper Meg Lanning contributed 49 not out off 34 deliveries. Ashleigh Gardner came in and hammered 31 off only 18 balls as the Aussies ended their innings on a high.
In the chase, India Women lost Shafali Verma (9), Smriti Mandhana (2) and Yastika Bhatia (4) cheaply. A fourth-wicket stand of 69 between captain Harmanpreet (52 off 34) and Rodrigues (43 off 24) brought the semi-final back to life.
Neither batter could, however, take the team past the finish line. Rodrigues was caught behind as her attempted ramp off Darcie Brown went awry. Harmanpreet was then run-out in bizarre fashion as her bat got struck in the ground as she came back for a second run. Following their skipper’s run-out, India Women’s innings lost momentum as they were held to 167/8.
Speaking at the post-match presentation after India lost yet another final, skipper Harmanpreet lamented, “Can't be unluckier than this, to get that momentum back when me and Jemi were batting. And to lose after that, we didn't expect this today. The way I got run out, can't be unluckier than that.”
Sharing her views on India’s performance, the dejected leader commented, “Putting in the effort was more important. We discussed about fighting till the last ball. The result didn't go our way, but I am happy with the way we played in this tournament. We know we have a good batting line up even if we lose early wickets.”
Despite the loss, Harmanpreet praised Rodrigues for taking the attack to Australia with a brilliant knock. She said, “Need to give credit to Jemi for the way she batted today. She got us the momentum we were looking for. Happy to see such performances. Happy to see them play their natural game. Even though we didn't play to our strengths, we reached the semis.”
India put down a couple of simple catches in the field and were sloppy overall. Harmanpreet added the missed chances came back to haunt them. She concluded, “We gave those easy catches away. Got to take those when you want to win. We misfielded. We can only learn from these lessons and not repeat the mistakes.”
--By A Cricket Correspondent