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More Australian dominance, and veterans leave the building

There were spectacular catches, some more scares and more Australian dominance in the final week of the round-robin stage

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
Ashleigh Gardner plucked off a stunner to dismiss Mignon du Preez  •  AFP via Getty Images

Ashleigh Gardner plucked off a stunner to dismiss Mignon du Preez  •  AFP via Getty Images

It was not until the final ball of the round-robin stage of the Women's World Cup that the semi-finalists were locked. Australia and South Africa had booked their seats earlier and it was a three-way battle between England, West Indies and India for the remaining two spots, before India bowed out on Sunday. With just three games left in perhaps the most competitive edition so far, here's looking back at the final week of the league stage.
Hello again, rain
While weather forecasts did have rain in the horizon on a couple of occasions in the early stages, inclement weather largely stayed away to enable action on the field except in the final week. While the downpour relented in Hamilton in order for West Indies and Pakistan play a 20-over fixture, South Africa and West Indies had to split points 65 balls into the game in Wellington. That extra point proved decisive for the Caribbean side, who edged India out of the semi-final.
Bangladesh's gutsy show
Bangladesh, playing their first ODI World Cup, had left a mark at the start by registering their first ever win at the tournament. They took it a notch up in the final week, giving a scare to India, Australia and England, especially with the ball.
"This was a big learning for us and in the future if we keep these things in mind or we can develop our skills more, our results against them will be better," captain Nigar Sultana said after their final match.
The Australian juggernaut rolls on
Captain Meg Lanning loves run-chases. She missed out on a century against India but made up for it by scoring almost 50% of the runs to help Australia hunt the 272 target against South Africa. But what happened when Lanning fell early to a peach? The middle order led by Beth Mooney stood up to be counted. Australia's long list of batters keeps attacking and it seems no target is too high for them. Good luck, West Indies.
The veterans leave the building
Hosts New Zealand and finalists of the 2017 edition, India, were two of the stronger teams to be knocked out of the semi-finals. While India's experienced duo of Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami maintained in the lead-up that this was to be their final attempt at winning the World Cup, it is not clear if the likes of Suzie Bates, Amy Satterthwaite and Katey Martin will be seen again at this event. Raj and Bates did well to end their tournament on a positive note personally - Raj scored 68, while Bates hit a massive century. New Zealand will hope at least some of them stay behind to help them prepare for the next event in 2025.
The flying fielders
While Deandra Dottin's catch at backward point set high standards at the start of the tournament, the final week saw a few more stunning takes on the field. First, it was Ashleigh Gardner, who dismissed du Preez with a giant jump. The South African returned the favour in the second innings by taking a blinder at deep midwicket, jumping high to her left with both hands to send back Rachael Haynes. Dottin was at it again to pull off a diving catch at backward point again, to dismiss Laura Wolvaardt of South Africa. Chloe Tryon then got into the act against India, to take one running to her right from mid-off to remove opener Smriti Mandhana.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo