Auckland: India captain Mithali Raj rued an off-day for the bowling department in their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup match against Australia at Eden Park.
After making 277/7 on a fresh pitch with short square and straight dimensions, India found it hard to defend the total against an unbeaten Australian side.
The bowlers gave too much width, which meant that the Australia batting order, especially wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy and captain Meg Lanning made the most of it by scoring 72 and 97, respectively to take their team to semi-finals.
Though India took the defence to the final over, they couldn’t get over the line as Beth Mooney hit two fours and ran a brace to complete a six-wicket win.
“When you lose you always feel that you are 10-15 runs short. Maybe the way the Australians started, they were ahead and the fielders did not back the bowlers when it was needed. It was one of those days when the bowling unit didn’t do well but they have been for the last four-five games,” said Mithali in the post-match presentation ceremony.
With India fourth on the points table with two wins and three losses, they now need to win against Bangladesh and South Africa at Hamilton and Christchurch respectively in the coming week to present a strong case for reaching the semifinals.
“It has to do with the girls playing in the leagues in Australia and with that comes a lot of exposure playing with the best players. Experience helps.
“The batting came good today but the bowling did take a hit. The next two games becomes very important and we would look to do well in all departments. We got ourselves in that position but the next two games is a must-win for us.”
Mithali, who top-scored with 68, signed off by thanking the Indian supporters and praised veteran pacer Jhulan Goswami for reaching the milestone of 200 ODI appearances. During her knock laced with three fours and a six down the ground, Mithali also equalled the record for most fifty-plus scores by a batter in Women’s Cricket World Cup, equalling with former New Zealand cricketer Debbie Hockley at 12.
“Thank all the people, the Indians who have come and supported us today. The experience she gets us over the years. Incredible achievement for a fast bowler to play over 200 games. It takes a lot of discipline, she is definitely a role model for many young girls back in India.”
Brief scores: India 277-7 (Raj 68, Bhatia 59, Harmanpreet 57 n.o.; Brown 3-30, King 2-52) Australia 280-4 (Lanning 97, Healy 72; Vastrakar 2-43). Australia won by six wickets.