Mithali’s ‘Raj’ in ODIs takes centre stage despite crucial loss against Australia

In a crucial match of ICC Women’s World Cup 2017, Meg Lanning’s Australia defeated Mithali Raj’s India to enter the knockouts.

Australia played a tight game of cricket to beat India in the Women’s World Cup match in Bristol. Photo credit: Cricket World Cup / Twitter

Both the teams headed into this match after winning four and losing one match each and that made for great viewing. However, it proved to be a one-sided game as defending champions Australia cantered to an eight-wicket win with 29 balls to spare.

Australia captain Meg Lanning won the toss and put the opposition in. India’s opening woes continued as Smriti Mandhana departed early yet again. Skipper Mithali Raj, on the cusp of a world record, decided to promote herself up the order to provide much-needed stability.

Raj and Punam Raut played out the opening powerplay without adding much to the scoreboard but stability was what they needed more.

The runs weren’t easy to come by and Australian fielders ensured that they complemented their bowlers on the field. Be that as it may, Raut decided to break the shackles.

Soon, Raut reached her ninth fifty in what was her 50th ODI.

Mithali’s was the greater feat though as she went past England’s Charlotte Edwards to become the all-time leading run scorer in ODIs. Before long she also reached 6,000 runs, a first in women’s cricket and then a fifty. Praises poured in for the skipper.

After getting past their feats, Raj and Raut decided to cut loose and smoked a few boundaries. The pair soon completed a 100-run partnership and made up for India’s slow start. India were in a comfortable position at the end of the 40 overs.

However against the run of play, skipper Raj’s innings ended on 69 when she hit one straight to bowler Kristen Beams. Next batswoman Harmanpreet Kaur looked in good touch straight away.

At the other end, Raut also converted her innings into a big score and became the second Indian after Mandhana to score a century in the ongoing World Cup.

It was an ideal time for Harmanpreet to show her explosive skills with the bat.

What followed next though was another shaky performance from India’s middle order. From 203/3 to 211/6 in the blink of an eye, it was yet another disappointing collapse!

The Australians maintained their high standards and did exceptionally well in the field and with the ball to restrict India to 226/7.

It was going to be an uphill task for the Indian bowlers to defend this total against the mighty Aussies, who started off the innings cautiously but made sure they didn’t throw their wickets away.

Once the Australian openers Nicole Bolton and Beth Mooney got their eye in, they unleashed their shots and kept the required run rate well in check. India desperately needed wickets.

Leg spinner Poonam Yadav provided India the much-needed breakthrough and the Australian captain Meg Lanning made her way into the middle to join Mooney.

The Australians scored with intent and kept the momentum going by rotating the strike against the spinners and never allowed them to settle.

Deepti Sharma’s accurate throw, however, brought an end to Mooney’s knock and India started hoping for a comeback.

Ellyse Perry joined Lanning in the middle and together they went from strength to strength. They never missed any opportunity to take runs and stamped their authority over the Indians. Australia were in total control of the match.

Lanning and Perry were involved in a splendid partnership. Hopes of an Indian victory kept diminishing.

The two middle order batswomen soon notched up their respective half-centuries. India’s bowling changes were not having any effect on them.

The pair remained unbeaten and steered Australia to a resounding win over India. With that victory, the defending champions sealed their place into the semifinals and that means India now have their work cut out when they face New Zealand on Saturday.

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