CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Australia reached its seventh straight Women's T20 World Cup final by holding off India to win by five runs on Thursday.
Chasing Australia's 172-4, India was 28-3 before a rally by the middle- and lower-order gave it a chance of an upset against the two-time defending champion and top-ranked team.
India needed 20 off the last 12 balls of the semifinal after Jemimah Rodrigues (43 off 24 balls), captain Harmanpreet Kaur (52 off 34) and Deepti Sharma (20 not out off 17) dragged the last World Cup's losing finalist back into contention.
Left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen bowled a superb penultimate over for Australia, holding India to just four runs off those six balls and claiming the wicket of Sneh Rana, who was bowled for 11.
With 16 needed off the last over to win, or 15 to tie the scores and force a Super Over, India got 10 and fell just short at 167-8.
“One of the best wins I’ve been involved in,” Australia captain Meg Lanning said. “India came hard at us so we knew this score would be hard to defend. But we pulled through in the clutch moments.”
The crucial wicket for the Aussies came earlier when Rodrigues tried to ramp a short ball over wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy but only succeeded in edging it to Healy. That ended a partnership of 69 with Kaur that had put India ahead of the required run rate after 10 overs.
Australia began to take control again when Kaur fell run out after getting her bat stuck in the ground as she tried to slide it into the crease.
"Can’t be unluckier than that," Kaur said of her run out. “Putting the effort in was important and we were happy to go to the last ball. We wanted to fight till the last ball.”
Australia has won five of the seven T20 World Cups played, only missing out in 2016 when it lost to West Indies in the final and in the first tournament in 2009 when it lost in the semis.
It has now made every final after 2009 and will play either England or host South Africa, who meet in the second semifinal on Friday.
Australia's score against India was down to its top four batters, with Healy getting 25, fellow opener Beth Mooney 54 off 37, Lanning 49 not out and Ashleigh Gardner 31 from 18.
India also paid for a couple of crucial misses. Wicketkeeper Richa Ghosh dropped a catch off Lanning when the Aussie captain was on 1. Mooney was dropped on 32.
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