Derby, July 20 (IANS) All-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur’s belligerent century helped India post a massive 281/4 against world champions Australia in the second semi-final encounter of the Women’s World Cup at the County Ground here on Thursday.
Coming in at No.4, Harmanpreet fired a 115-ball unbeaten 171 to bail out the team, once tottering at 35/2 after losing both the openers — Smriti Mandhana (6) and Punam Raut (14) inside the first 10 overs.
Electing to bat after winning the toss in the match, reduced to 42 overs a side due to rain, the 28-year-old Harmanpreet was involved in two crucial partnerships — 66 runs with skipper Mithali Raj (36 from 61 balls, 2*4) for the third wicket and then a 137-run fourth wicket stand with Deepti Sharma (25 from 35, 1*4) — to change the complexion of the game.
Mithali continued from where she left against New Zealand in the final group stage game, meddling the balls to their merit and slowly rescuing India’s drowning ship before a leg-spinner from Kirsten Beams cut short her stay in the middle.
At 101/3, Harmanpreet was at her attacking best but needed someone to support her at the other end, as Deepti played the perfect second fiddle with her waiting game. The Australians by now had failed to find an answer to Harmanpreet’s onslaughts.
Such was the ferocity of her attack, that the Punjab right-hander got to her third One-day International (ODI) hundred in just 90 balls before launching most of the Aussie bowlers out of the park.
Unable to stop her carnage, Australia captain Meg Lannings turned to her opening bowler Ashleigh Gardner, but it only resulted in Harmanpreet milking the pacer for 23 runs, which included two consecutive sixes and as many boundaries in an over.
The fall of Deepti brought in Veda Krishnamurthy (16 from 10, 2*4) who along with Harmanpreet added a 19-ball unbeaten stand of 43 runs, as India found themselves in a comfortable position towards the end of their innings.
Brief Scores: Indian women 281/4 (Harmanpreet Kaur 171 not out, Mithali Raj 36, Deepti Sharma 25, Ashleigh Gardner 1/43) vs Australia women.