India's final hopes fade as New Zealand win
New Zealand 5 for 210 (Pulford 71, Bates 47*) beat India 207 (Malhotra 59*, Chopra 52) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
New Zealand inched closer to the World Cup final with a five-wicket win over India in the Super Six at the North Sydney Oval. Kate Pulford set up the chase with an 89-ball 71 and a nerveless Suzie Bates saw them through after the Indian spinners had struck with quick wickets.
The target of 208 was competitive but a 78-run opening partnership between Pulford and Haidee Tiffen - their first half-century stand of the tournament - put New Zealand on course. Pulford went on the attack while Tiffen played circumspectly. After playing and missing a few, Pulford launched an attack on Rumeli Dhar - she hit her for fours to third man and midwicket before being dropped at 22 by Mithali Raj at slip. The missed chance cost India as Pulford hit Dhar for two more fours in the same over. At the end of 10 overs New Zealand were 47 for no loss; India were 30 for 2 at the same stage.
India reached their second 200-plus total of the tournament only after Anjum Chopra and Mithali Raj, their most experienced and consistent batsmen, pulled them out of trouble. But the New Zealand medium-pacers, Nicola Browne and Bates, maintained disciplined lines and kept the scoring rate down.
Chopra and Raj put on 36 runs but only at three an over. It was left to the lower order to provide some push and Reema Malhotra did just that with a quickfire maiden half-century. She got good support from the tail, adding 27 at more than five an over with Amita Sharma (14 off 16) and 44 at more than nine an over with Harmanpreet Kaur (13 off 16). New Zealand's bowlers, Bates in particular, turned sloppy, in trying to slow down the tail. Bates conceded three wides and a no-ball in the final 10 overs - a period in which India collected 72 runs. But the fielders remained sharp and ran out four Indians - three in the death overs.
Indian fielders - with the exception of Amita - were abject and failed to back up the bowlers by adding pressure at a time when wickets had fallen in quick succession. After dropping Pulford early in the innings, Raj made a mess of another catch - in the 40th over off Aimee Mason - and let it go for a six. Tiffen and Pulford also survived run-out attempts as the Indian fielders threw wide of the stumps.
India are ahead of New Zealand on net run-rate and can still reach the final, but only if they beat West Indies, New Zealand go down to Pakistan and Australia lose to England.
A disappointed Indian captain, Jhulan Goswami, said it was a bitter pill to swallow. "It is a very disappointing day. We worked extremely hard for the World Cup but all has gone down the drain because of one bad performance," she said. "It is a devastating blow to all of us as the next World Cup will be after four years and who know who will be there by then.
"It is very difficult to lift your spirits after you know you have been knocked out of the title match, but we have to motivate ourselves and try to win matches against the West Indies and Australia so that we could finish, at least, third in the tournament."