Kaur smashes blistering 171 as India post 281-4 against Australia

Harmanpreet Kaur plays a shot. — Courtesy: ICC

DERBY: Australia were set 282 to win and book a place in the Women’s World Cup final after Harmanpreet Kaur hit an incredible 171 for India in the semi-final at Derby on Thursday.

Rain had reduced the match to a 42 overs per side contest, with bad weather and a sodden outfield delaying the scheduled 10:30am (0930 GMT) start by more than two hours.

The winners will face England in Sunday’s final.

Kaur’s 171 was her third ODI century, the first outside of India and her highest ever score, coming off 115 balls and including 20 fours and seven sixes.

India looked on to score under 200 until Kaur cut loose late on in the innings.

India, calling on their knowledge of the pitch, having won all four group stage matches they contested at Derby, decided to bat first after winning the toss.

However they experienced a disappointing opening over when Smrti Mandhana departed, lobbing Megan Schutt up to Elyse Villani.

Captain Mithali Raj led the rebuild, but her uncharacteristically powerful start was soon curtailed with the dismissal of Punam Raut, caught on the boundary by Beth Mooney off Ashleigh Gardner.

The arrival of Kaur saw steady progress, before the allrounder took on the role of aggressor.

Raj, content taking a back seat, drove Schutt for one to move top of the tournament’s run-scorer’s chart, however was out two overs later.

Dropped off Kristen Beams miscuing a pull shot, Raj was bowled the very next ball by the legspinner for 36.

Kaur continued to attack in a merciless display of hitting, requiring 26 balls to move from her half-century to triple figures, when she was almost run out scampering a two to reach the landmark.

That scare and the wicket of Deepti Sharma did little to deter her, using only 18 balls to then bring up 150, as she ensured Australia would need to complete the biggest chase in World Cup history to progress and England in Sunday’s sell-out final at Lord’s.