India claimed a historic silver medal in the CWG 2022 losing to Australia in the final by nine runs at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Tuesday. Chasing 161 to win, India fell agonizing short despite skipper Harmanpreet Kaur’s 43-ball off 65 and Jemimah Rodrigues’ run-a-ball 33. India had lost to Australia in the group stages while the Aussies came into the final unbeaten. India were in a commanding position in the chase and looked set to win, but a mini-collapse that saw them lose three wickets in the space of nine balls, changed the momentum of the game and Australia clawed back and won a thriller.
Kaur had led from the front in the chase and combined with Rodrigues for a match-turning stand of 96 runs for the third wicket. Durng her knock the skipper smashed two sixes and seven fours and smoked the Australian bowlers all around the park. Rodrigues played second fiddle hitting three fours during her knock. But, Australia did not go down easy as they clawed back in to the game with the wickets of Rodrigues and Kaur in back-to-back overs. In fact India lost three wickets in the space of nine balls and went from being 118/2 to 121/5. Australian bowlers then stifled India with a couple of runs out. It eventually came down to concussion substitute Yashtika Bhaita – in for Taniya Bhatia – to try and take India home. India needed 11 off the last over, bowled by Jess Jonassen and Yastika could not see her tem home. Meghna was run-out of the second delivery of the final over and off the third, Jonassen trapped Yastika in front as India were all out for 152.
India had lost their in-form opener Smriti Mandhana early in the piece – bowled down the leg side for just 6 – by Darcy Brown. Shafali Verma threatened with her bold strokeplay but despite reprieve early on, she fell to Ash Gardner for 11. However, Kaur and Rodrigues’ partnership took the game away from Australia and by the time Rodrigues fell to Meghan Schutt, India were closing in on a famous victory. but Australia turned things around as India succumbed to the scoreboard pressure.
Opting to bat first, Meg Lanning’s side were limited to 169/8 with Renuka Singh, the tournament’s highest wicket-taker leading from the front claiming 2/25 in her four overs, while Sneh Rana returned 2/38. For Australia, Beth Mooney top-scored with 61, while Lanning contributed 36, before being run out at the non-strikers’ end by some smart work by Rana Yadav off her own bowling.
Fielding was the hallmark of India in the first half with Yadav herself completing a superb catch at backward point to get rid of Tahlia McGrath – who incidentally had tested positive for Covid-19 with mild symptoms ahead of the game and was yet allowed to play the final. Deepti Sharma then took one-hander peddling back to remove Mooney at the far end of the Aussie innings. Renuka, who finished with 11 wickets to her name in the tournament, got the first breakthrough by removing the dangerous Alyssa Healy for 7 and then came back for her second spell to get rid of Grace Harris.
Mooney and Lanning had put together a solid 74-run stand for the second wicket before a Mooney straight drive in the 11th over was stopped by Radha Yadav, who then threw the ball back at the stumps and Lanning was found caught backing a bit too far. McGrath’s wicket in quick succession dented Australia’s progress. Gardner added 25 down the order, but she was running out of partners and the World Champions eventually stuttered to 161/8 in their 20 overs.