All-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur struck a sensational, unbeaten 171 as India stunned champions Australia by 36 runs to storm into the ICC Women’s World Cup final on Thursday.
Harmanpreet smashed 20 fours and seven sixes in a whirlwind innings of 115 deliveries to help India overcome a slow start and amass 281/4 in 42 overs, after the match in Derby was reduced following heavy rain in the morning.
Indian pace bowlers Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey then led the spirited showing on the field before the champions were 245 all out in 40.1 overs, avoiding a big defeat thanks to a last-gasp 90 by Alex Blackwell.
Blackwell shared a 76-run partnership with Beams for Kristen Beams for Australia’s final wicket.
Mithali Raj’s side will face England in the final to be played at the Lord’s on Sunday. India will vie for the title a second time.
Harmanpreet Kaur played the innings of her life after India, having elected to bat, made a slow start. She played herself in before smashing the Aussie bowlers to all parts, hitting big sixes and cashing in towards the end as she was fed full tosses to hole out in the deep.
India lost openers Smriti Mandhana and Punam Raut within the first 10 overs. However, Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur got together in a 66-run stand to steady the innings.
While Mithali fell for 36, Harmanpreet held on and picked up pace to dismantle the Australian bowling.
Harmanpreet completed her century from 90 balls, adding 71 runs from her next 25 deliveries. She raised a blistering 137-run fourth-wicket partnership with Deepti Sharma, who scored 25. Veda Krishnamurthy scored 16 not out help India raise a formidable total in the end.
Delirium at Bhullar household
The phone has not stopped ringing at the Bhullar household in Moga (Punjab) since the cricketer started swatting the Australian bowlers out of the park at Derby in the ongoing ICC Women’s World in the second semifinal. Her father Harmander Singh Bhullar told Hindustan Times, “The real celebrations will only start when India wins the match and storms into the final.”
But he could not hide his feelings on the Harmanpreet’s spectacular knock.
“I am so proud of Harman. She has made not only us but the whole nation proud by doing well in the crucial match. She was really frustrated on missing out in the previous matches due to the finger injury she suffered against the West Indies. She will be relieved today. Waheguru jee has blessed my daughter today and hope to see India making it to the final and at Lords,” he added.
Batting at number four, Harmanpreet Kaur smashed 115-ball unbeaten knock of 171 runs to set up India to a huge total of 281 for 4 in 42 overs. Harman bettered her previous ODI best score of 107 runs. She hammered 20 fours and seven towering sixes during her blistering knock at the strike rate of 148.69.
Harmanpreet, who started as a medium-pacer in Moga, switched to batting under coach Yadavinder Singh Sodhi. Daughter of a clerk in the local District Court became the first woman to be signed by Sydney Thunder in the second edition of T20 Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia. She would also be playing in the England Kia T20 League in August.