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1st Semi-Final, Cape Town, February 23, 2023, ICC Women's T20 World Cup
(20 ov, T:173) 167/8

AUS Women won by 5 runs

Player Of The Match
31 (18) & 2/37

Australia clinch thriller to make seventh straight final

Mooney, Lanning, Gardner, Brown, Jonassen put in crucial contributions as India fall just short

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Darcie Brown celebrates with Grace Harris and Ellyse Perry, Australia vs India, Women's T20 World Cup, semi-final, Cape Town, February 23, 2023

Australia held their nerve in the end  •  AFP/Getty Images

Australia 172 for 4 (Mooney 54, Lanning 49*, Pandey 2-32) beat India 167 for 8 (Harmanpreet 52, Rodrigues 43, Brown 2-18) by five runs
Australia have reached a seventh successive T20 World Cup final but not without an almighty fight from India, who came five runs short in a thrilling semi-final in Cape Town. The margin of defeat is four runs smaller than it was at the Commonwealth Games final last year, but that will be little consolation for India, who came agonisingly close while chasing 173.
They were clumsy in the field, conceded at least 15 runs through overthrows and misfields and dropped two crucial catches - of Meg Lanning on 1 and Beth Mooney on 32 - and were equally nervy between the wickets. Two crucial run-outs dented their chase including that of Harmanpreet Kaur, which led to India's slide.
The India captain was ill on the eve of the match and briefly hospitalised with a fever but fronted up to lead her side and almost took them home. After a poor start which left India on 28 for 3 in the fourth over, Harmanpreet shared in a 69-run fourth-wicket stand with Jemimah Rodrigues and then brought up her first fifty of the tournament. She had barely celebrated it when her bat got stuck in the ground while sliding it for a second run and Alyssa Healy was quick to break the stumps, leaving India's middle and lower order to get 40 runs off the last 32 balls.

Shafali Verma fumbles, then flounders, then finally holds on

Shafali Verma was responsible for the first misfield on a messy day for India, when she dived over the top of a Healy drive to allow what should have been a single turn into two in the first over. India let at least two more ones get doubled up on before they got their first wicket when Healy charged against Radha Yadav and was stumped to give them some joy.
Radha should have had another in her next over when Mooney lofted a drive to Shafali at long-on. The ball came to her at waist height and should have been easily taken but she let it slip through her hands and bounce over the boundary. Mooney went on to hit three more fours before trying to cut a Shikha Pandey ball that was too close to her body and found Shafali again. She was stationed at point and made no mistake this time for the simple catch. She was clearly relieved and celebrated by banging the ball into the turf. Mooney was dismissed on 54, which meant Shafali's miss cost India 22 runs.

Ashleigh Gardner's late attack

After Healy and Mooney's opening stand of 52, and Mooney and Lanning's 36-run stand off 27 balls, Ashleigh Gardner arrived to put the finishing touches on an innings that was well set up. She found her first boundary with a clip off Sneh Rana in an over that cost 14 runs and then upped the ante for high-octane entry into the last five overs. Gardner slog swept Radha over midwicket, then lofted her between long-off and cover and then took back-to-back boundaries off Renuka Singh. She had plundered 28 runs off her first 14 balls and put Australia in a position to push for a total above 170. She was bowled by a Deepti Sharma yorker in the 18th over, and Australia still managed 30 runs in the last two overs to reach 172.

Mayhem in the middle

India's chase started in the worst possible way when Shafali was given out lbw as she missed a flick off Megan Schutt. She was hit above the knee roll and reviewed, with both height and the prospect of the ball missing leg stump on the cards, but was confirmed out on umpire's call. Five balls later, a Gardner arm ball trapped Smriti Mandhana in her crease as she tried to defend and Australia reviewed on suspicion of pad first. They were right and India had lost their openers.
But the worst came in the over after that when Yastika Bhatia, included in the side after last playing in India's tournament opener, flicked Darcie Brown to Grace Harris at short midwicket and set off for a run even though Rodrigues didn't move. By the time Bhatia turned to get back, Harris' throw had already reached Healy, who had the time to run in and break the stumps. India were 28 for 3 in the fourth over.

Rodrigues rides the wave and Harmanpreet falls short

Rodrigues and Harmanpreet were not rattled by the early wickets and took charge of the innings for the next 6.4 overs. Harmanpreet showed few signs of being under the weather and Rodrigues displayed the confidence she showed against Pakistan. Harmanpreet struck India's first six with a strong swing over long-on and Rodrigues turned it on with two gorgeous lofted off drives off Georgia Wareham. India were 93 for 3 after 10 overs, with the required run rate at eight an over and the pair were going smoothly.
Rodrigues started the second half of the innings with another classic drive and then tried to get cute against a Brown short ball. She shaped up to ramp it over Healy's head but got a thin edge and was caught behind to leave her captain to complete the chase. Harmanpreet got to her fifty off 32 balls and took India to within 40 runs of victory before she was run-out for the first time in nearly five years in T20Is, and India's lower order couldn't take them over the line.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket

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