Ice-cool Mooney, Lanning’s brilliant ace run as Aussies go unbeaten at World Cup




Australia are through to the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup, overtaking India 7-277 after a rain delay injected drama into their pursuit in Auckland.

Beth Mooney produced the last on heroism and Meg Lanning led from the front, scoring a stunning 97 to give Australia a rare win at Eden Park, the All Blacks’ home of pain.

Australia seemed to have the task in hand before the showers arrived, breaking their innings at 2-225 and needing 53 runs on 54 balls.

With Lanning eight points from victory, Mooney steadied the ship and saw one last sight as Australia needed eight to win.

Showing class and steel, Mooney broke two bounds as Australia completed the women’s World Cup pursuit record, claiming a six-wicket win with three balls remaining.

The win is Australia’s fifth consecutive win in New Zealand, where they are seeking to reclaim the trophy lost five years ago to England.

Lanning won the coin toss and opted to bowl in Auckland, hoping to take advantage of the bouncing wicket.

Teenage rhythm star Darcie Brown agreed, taking 3-30, including the top two in the first six overs.

India relied on a 130-point position between Mithali Raj (68) and Yastika Bhatia (59) to build their innings, before Harmanpreet Kaur took a late start.

The trio all counted out half-centuries, with Australia assisting them in a scattergun attack.

Ellyse Perry was the worst offender as Australia gave up 24 runs from wide, their worst comeback of any World Cup round.

Handed the ball over to 12th, Perry erred on her line, playing six individual widths – including one that went to the ropes – to the delight of the home crowd.

Fans shouted “wide” with every swing and every outing as Perry went for 16 and returned to the field.

Kaur (57 of 47) and Pooja Vastrakar (34 of 28) threw late but the score seemed to be lower on the short, square pitch.

In response, Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes shot from the start with 67 on the power play and an opening position of 121 points.

When the two fell apart, Lanning and Perry set up their own century-old partnership, with Perry falling for 28 just after the rain arrived to set up a nerve-wracking finish.

Meg Lanning plays a shot shot. (Photo by Phil Walter-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Pace legend Jhulan Goswami ratcheted up the tension with five point balls on the 48th over and rushed for the final over.

Mooney settled the matter and Australian nerves with two fours in the first three balls, the last over the head of a desperate Goswami.

Defeating India should have special resonance for Australia, as the only team to have beaten them in the last 35 ODIs and the team that sent them home after the 2017 World Cup.

The defeat continues India’s boom-bust tournament and leaves them in a dogfight to qualify for the final four.

With Australia (5-0) and South Africa (4-0) in the box to follow, there are places left for only two other teams.

The West Indies (3-2) hold their destiny in hand, while England (1-3), India (2-3) and New Zealand (2-3), defending champions, still nurture the hope of qualifying for the semi-finals.

England and New Zealand complete a marquee weekend at Eden Park on Sunday in a match that will all but end the loser’s semi-final dreams.

Australia can complete the group stage without pressure against South Africa (Tuesday) and Bangladesh (Friday) in Wellington.




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