Harmanpreet Kaur’s phenomenal 171 off 115 balls set the tone for India, as they claimed a 36-run semi-final victory against the defending champions Australia.
Australia have dominated clashes between the two sides, with a record of 34 wins and eight losses from the previous 42 encounters. With India having only made the World Cup final on one occasion, it seemed a difficult challenge, on paper, against the six-time world champions.
After a rain delay knocked off six overs from the allotted 50, India got off to a dampened start, losing their openers for 35 runs after 9.2 overs.
This was soon forgotten, however, as Kaur steadied the ship through a 66-run partnership with her captain Mithali Raj.
Raj didn’t hang around long, losing her wicket just after the team hundred, but being three wickets down did not perturb Kaur.
Her first fifty was respectable as she reached it off 64 balls, but what followed was destructive as she reached her next fifty off 26 balls, third 50 off 17 and took just eight balls to hit 21 runs, ending her innings with the fifth-highest score in Women’s ODIs.
Her 171 off 115 balls (20 fours and seven sixes) propelled India to 281-4 in their reduced 42 overs, which is now the highest score in a Women’s World cup knockout stage.
Australia seemed to have been wounded by Kaur’s destructive innings, as they found themselves three down for just 21 runs after 7.2 overs.
Elyse Villani and Ellyse Perry turned the tables on their poor start, their century third-wicket stand guiding Australia to 126 by the 24th over, but Villani was taken out after a 58-ball 75.
Perry tried hard to keep her side in the game, but the all-rounder’s hopes of her side landing a second successive World Cup final started to slip away after the 26-year-old lost her scalp on 38 in the 27th over.
Jhulan Goswami got her second after Alyssa Healy looked to accelerate the run rate, as Australia lost their top six just two runs shy of a team 150.
Despite a proficient fightback from ex-captain Alex Blackwell (90 off 56 balls), Australia fell 36 runs short of the target, to end their innings on 245.
India will face the hosts, England, in the World Cup final on Sunday at Lord’s.
Photo: Julian Herbert-IDI/Getty Images