Bristol: Mithali Raj made ODI history in Bristol but it was Australia who booked its place in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 after an eight-wicket victory at The County Ground.
India skipper Raj surpassed Charlotte Edwards’s record run total of 5,992 in one-day internationals during her 69, and while Poonam Raut also notched up a century, it was not enough with Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry unbeaten for Australia on 76 and 60 respectively.
Australia assured itself of advancing along with England and South Africa, who won their respective matches against New Zealand and Sri Lanka on Wednesday, with the India-New Zealand match on Saturday now a virtual quarterfinal.
“Our bowlers did a great job right from the start and didn’t let them get away from us at any point, and we were pretty confident of chasing down that total,” said Australia skipper Lanning, who now has 328 runs in the tournament at an average of 109.33.
“It was a nice way to bounce back from our last game. We had a good base there and getting a lot of wickets at the end of their innings halted their momentum.
“Mithali Raj is truly a great of the game; her stats show that. Congratulations to her and I’m sure she’s still got a fair few runs left in her in this World Cup as well.”
Australia opted – as it has done throughout the tournament – to open with spin, and Lanning’s decision paid off almost immediately.
Smriti Mandhana’s scratchy innings came to an end in the fourth over; having already survived top-edging Megan Schutt over the slips, she nicked Ashleigh Gardner behind to Alyssa Healy (making her 50th ODI appearance) for three.
But that brought Raj to the crease needing just 34 runs to break Edwards’ record, and alongside Raut she got to work.
Both started slowly with India taking 18 overs to reach 50, but they accelerated expertly in a 157-run partnership.
Raj, who survived two reviews during her innings, got to another milestone as she smashed an impressive six back over Kristen Beams’ head to become the first woman ever to pass 6,000 ODI runs.
However both Raj and Raut (106 off 136 balls) were dismissed as they looked to push their side towards 250.
Instead, India had to make do with 226 for seven, with Perry (two for 37) the pick of the Australian bowlers who combined to claim five wickets for just 17 runs towards the end of the innings.
Nicole Bolton (36) and Beth Mooney (45) got Australia’s chase off to a solid start with an opening stand of 62, before Poonam got the breakthrough as Bolton went for a big sweep.
She could only feather Poonam through to Sushma Verma, and while Aussie skipper Lanning oozed confidence – finding the boundary with regularity – Mooney was then run out thanks to a superb Deepti Sharma throw.
But from there on Australia, and particularly Lanning, was in complete control. The skipper brought up her half-century off 55 balls and was supported ably by Perry, with the pair both finishing not out.
Their efforts saw Australia home with five overs to spare, and India captain Raj reckons based on Lanning’s potential, her new record may not stand for long.
She said: “Lanning has all the shots, and the form she is in at the moment surely will only take her another four or five years to break that record.
“Obviously we now have a decider ahead against New Zealand to get to the semi-finals. As a team, we have to step up, as if we perform again like this it will not be enough.
“We really have to improve all over the pitch, especially producing more consistency from how we are bowling and fielding.”
Australia beat India by eight wickets at Bristol County Ground, Bristol
India 226-7 in 50 overs (Poonam Raut 106, Mithali Raj 69, Harmanpreet Kaur 23; Ellyse Perry 3-27, Megan Schutt 2-52)
Australia 227-2 in 45.1 overs (Meg Lanning 76 not out, Ellyse Perry 60 not out, Beth Mooney 45)
Player of the match – Meg Lanning (Australia)
Next matches – India v New Zealand, County Ground, Derby, 15 July; South Africa v Australia, County Ground, Taunton, 15 July