“We can’t be unluckier than this,” Harmanpreet remorse softly after one of the closest defeats India has ever had, “The way we got the momentum back when Jemi (Jemimah Rodrigues) and I were batting… and after that losing this game, we were not expecting this today.”
The Indian captain Harmanpreet Kaur lamented bad luck following her team’s disheartening five-run loss to Australia in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 semi-final. Although putting up a valiant battle against the five-time champs, the women in blue narrowly missed making it to the finals.
India’s pursuit of a 173-run chase got off to the worst possible start when the first three of their wickets went easily away into the Australian duct in the first five overs. At 28/3, India appeared to be facing an insurmountable climb, but a magnificent fourth wicket stand between the captain and Jemimah Rodrigues put them back into the game.
Kaur, however, misfortunately lost her wicket shortly after reaching her half-century. Her bat caught wedged in the pitch as she was running a couple, leading to an odd run out.
Speaking on the incident after the match, the 33-year-old said, ” The way I got run-out… can’t be unluckier than that. Putting the effort was more important and I am happy we took this game till the last ball. That is what we discussed in the team meeting, that we want to fight till the last ball. The result was not in our favour, but I am happy with the way we played in this tournament.”
Harmanpreet was pleased despite India losing the toss on Thursday when Australia decided to bat, as they won two of their three games in the T20 World Cup while chasing. Despite a 52-run opening stand between Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney, India managed to keep Australia in check. However, Mooney, Meg Lanning, and Ashleigh Gardner helped Australia reach 172 for 4 by scoring 73 runs off the final six overs.
Kaur added, ” “We love to chase and today also we were thinking of chasing only. When Australia took batting, we know whatever we were expecting, it is happening the way we want. Even after losing first two wickets, we know we have a good batting line-up and have few players who back themselves.”
In her 43 off 24 innings, Rodrigues was the first to retaliate, hitting back-to-back fours as soon as she stepped up to the plate. The skipper hence praised Rodrigues, “Specially, I should give credit to Jemimah, the way she batted today. She was the one who gave us the momentum we were looking for. Happy to see some good performances we saw this tournament.”
India gave away a few free throws earlier on in Australia’s innings. Richa Ghosh, the wicketkeeper, dropped Meg Lanning at 1 who later scored 49; and Beth Mooney received an additional life after Shafali Verma dropped a dolly. Ghosh also lost a chance to stump at the opportunity.
Harmanpreet acknowledged they had to pay for the standard of fielding they show-cased at the knock-out stage, “We again gave some easy catches away. When we have to win, we have to take those chances especially, which is 100% in your hands. We did mis-field today. We can only learn from these areas and whenever we come next time, we should learn from this and should not make these mistakes next time.”
“We fought in this tournament, and we played some really good cricket. Even though we didn’t play according to our strengths, still we were able to make the semi. Today we wanted to play our natural game and a few of us did that. Happy to see that,” the skipper noted.
Lanning, the Australian skipper, referred to it as “one of the best wins” she has been a part of. As Rodrigues and Harmanpreet were batting, Australia appeared to be out of options, but they stuck to their game plan and generally caught and fielded everything that came their way to continue their winning record in the T20 World Cup semi-finals.
“To fight back from the position we were in, probably not playing our best game in all three facets was great fighting spirit from the girls, couldn’t be prouder of them,” Lanning said after the historic win and further noted, “We probably missed our lengths a little bit, gave a bit of width at times. But India were coming hard at us.”