India send Australia towards the exit
India 5 for 234 (Chopra 76) beat Australia 7 for 218 (Blackwell 54) by 16 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia's defence of the World Cup is virtually over after they were outplayed by a well-rounded India in their opening Super Six game at North Sydney Oval. Anjum Chopra's 76 guided the visitors before they crashed 73 in the final seven overs to finish with 5 for 234 and the hosts scraped 7 for 218 in their second defeat of the tournament.
The result leaves Australia on two points with a couple of Super Six matches to go and they must win both and hope that two of England (6) New Zealand (4) and India (4) stumble. There are no semi-finals and Australia will be out of the competition if eight points are needed to reach next Sunday's decider.
Australia never recovered from India's late burst with the bat and were in severe trouble when they lost their three big names by the 15th over. Shelley Nitschke was the first to go after being bowled by a superb Jhulan Goswami delivery that clipped the top of off stump and Australia's troubles quickly worsened as Karen Rolton and Lisa Sthalekar departed.
The hosts were 3 for 53 when Sthalekar was caught behind off Amita Sharma aiming an extravagant drive. She followed six balls after the stumping of Rolton, who went down the pitch, then stepped back to cut, missed and was still short of her ground.
Alex Blackwell desperately tried to keep Australia in touch, but her 54 took up 105 deliveries and the run-rate required was more than a run a ball with 20 overs remaining. Jodie Fields provided a surge with 43 off 59 before the legspinner Reema Malhotra picked up both of the main challengers. Ellyse Perry (0) became Gouher Sultana's second victim, Jessica Cameron added 25, Lauren Ebsary collected an unbeaten 39 and Rene Farrell was 20 not out, but they fell short.
Chopra set up India's excellent total by playing the anchor role around Anagha Deshpande and Mithali Raj, whose class stood out in a delightful 44 off 50. However, the real acceleration came through Sharma at the end as Australia's target went from comfortable to out of reach.
Sharma opened with a couple of fours from Perry and sprinted to 31 from 22 balls in a display that was copied by Harmanpreet Kaur, who blasted 19 from eight deliveries. India were 3 for 161 after 43 overs when the fireworks started and the Australian bowlers were treated like novices.
Fourteen came from a Farrell over before Raj's display ended and when Perry returned she also went for 14. Sthalekar kept her end tight and picked up Goswami (5) and then Perry was taken for another 13. In the 49th over Emma Sampson gave up 14 as Kaur joined the fun by planting a four and a six.
It was a stunning conclusion and completely different to the sombre start when India managed eight runs off the first six overs and Chopra collected her first single from her 18th ball. Deshpande ended the rut by taking four boundaries from Sampson and India built steadily before Deshpande went heaving Sthalekar to deep midwicket on 45.
Sthalekar took the catch for the second wicket and collected the final two dismissals to pick up 3 for 52 from ten overs. Chopra departed in the 42nd over, clipping Farrell to Nitschke at midwicket after finding six fours and a six during her 137-ball innings, which put India on track for a stunning victory.