India went down to defending champions Australia by an eight wickets in the penultimate league game on Wednesday at Bristol. Coming off a narrow loss to South Africa, India needed one more win to be assured of a semi-final slot. But they were unable to defend a score of 226 against a high-flying Australia. The only highlight for India was opener Punam Raut’s century and captain Mithali Raj becoming the highest run-scorer in ODI cricket and cross 6000 runs. India will now have to beat New Zealand in their last league game on Saturday to advance to the semifinals.

Here’s how the match unfolded.

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Australia skipper Meg Lanning is the Player of the Match for her unbeaten 76. The captain leads from the front once again.

Into the semifinals. Australia win by 8 wickets! In the end, it’s a simple chase for the defending champions and they get over the line on the back of yet another 100-run partnership between captain Meg Lanning (76 off 88) and Ellyse Perry (60 off 66). The two were unbeaten and their 124-run stand ensured they enter the semifinals once again.

For India to qualify, they will now have to beat New Zealand in their last league match against New Zealand on Saturday.

Have a look at the point table after Australia’s win. Unsurprisingly, they are top of the table

That’s one way to get back to the crease & avoid a stumping...

End of Over 40, 195/1: Bisht starts the first over of the Powerplay with a maiden to Lanning, but the scoring rate resumes to its normal healthy pace soon after with 23 runs coming in the Batting Powerplay. Australia need 32 in 60 ball after this, for a massive win and a spot in the semifinals.

End of Over 35, Australia 172/2: Goswami brought back into the attack, as Mithali Raj tries to use both pace and spin in attempt to break the partnership. But Lanning and Perry seem hardly troubled as they out together yet another 50-run partnership at a run rate of over five. With the Batting Power play coming up and 55 needed off 90 balls, this match may be over sooner than we imagined.

Meanwhile, look at India’s very poor fielding card. Of the many things that haven’t gone right for India, fielding was a big one.

Fifty for Meg Lanning! The captain leads from the front again with a 55-ball 50 as she charges towards the target. Australia need only 64 more. Should be comfortable.

End of Over 30, Australia 140/2: Pandey and Bisht bowl a tight couple of overs to the high-flying Lanning and Perry. But the moment Perry gets some room, she breaks free with a boundary. Once it begins, the run begin to flow for Australia again. Even the reintroduction of Sharma doesn’t stop the run charge once it begins as 28 runs comes off the last five overs , keeping the required run rate on par with the scoring rate.
Meanwhile, Australia captain crosses 5000 runs in international cricket.

Wicket! Mooney run out! Deepti Sharma’s rocket fielding gives India the second blow. Mooney attempts a risky single but she has taken on possibly the best Indian fielder. The youngster scores a direct hit straight from extra cover. Australia were going steady with a partnership of 62 between Lanning and Mooney, but that has been broken now. However, the in-form Ellyse Perry is in next.

End of Over 20, Australia 86/1: An eventful five overs – healthy 29 runs from them even as the first wicket falls, India lose their DRS review to a terrible call from Sushma Verma, Meg Lanning shows us once again why she is the No 1 ODI batter with a superb Six and another crisp four off wicket-taker Yadav’s over. Sharma continues with her tight line but that is not quite enough, as not with the less-than-intense fielding and very intense Meg Lanning.

Here’s a look at that failed DRS review, which a certain Mr Boycott would have called “rubbish”.

ICYMI: Here’s Poonam Yadav’s gritty journey, from almost giving up cricket to being part of India’s World Cup squad.

Wicket! Poonam Yadav strikes for India! The leg-spinner flights the ball and it goes just under Bolton’s bat, getting a faint knick on its way that goes straight to keeper Sushma Verma. She rarely misses close catches and they all go up in appeal and the umpire raises his finger. Bolton considers a DRS review but decides against it, giving India the first breakthrough! Australia 62/1

End of Over 15, Australia 57/0: Ekta Bisht introduced into the attack and goes for 13 runs in the over with Bolton slamming three consecutive fours. She is replaced by Harmanpreet at once Sharma comes in from the other end gives away only 1 run, is replaced by Poonam Yadav in the next over, and brought back from the other end bowling a maiden. A lot of chopping and changing for India, but no breakthrough as Mooney and Bolton bring up the 50-run opening partnership.

End of Over 10, Australia 34/0: Pacer Shikha Pandey replaces Deepti Sharma and starts off with a maiden as well. Harmanpreet Kaur is also brought in early as Goswami is taken off after only three overs. The part-timer goes for five and six, but Pandey continues with a sharp line, giving away only four in her next two overs in the Powerplay. India have been a little sloppy in the field so far, it just won’t do while defending this total.

End of Over 5, Australia 18/0: India start their defence in the best possible manner with maidens in the first two overs. Spinner Deepti Sharma – who wasn’t give much of a chance to bat – shared the new ball with Goswami. But her second over went for runs with back-to-back boundaries. Goswami also errs her line and her short balls are hit for boundaries. Mooney and Bolton look comfortable in the chase so far.

Here we go, time for Australia’s chase: Openers Nicole Bolton and Beth Mooney get ready, as does Jhulan Goswami with the new ball for India.

India finish on 226/7: India suffered a shaky start with the fall of Smriti Mandhana, but Punam Raut and Mithali Raj built on to give India something to play at. They batted the the entire of 50 overs but the procession of wickets in the last four overs dried up the runs and will have given the formidable Australian batting the momentum. However, the pitch is on the slower side, and with India’s spin quartet, they will back themselves to defend it. Tune in for the second innings in a bit.

Wicket! Sushma Verma is castled! Schutt gets her second as the ball goes under Verma’s bat and breaks the stumps. Fifth quick wicket falls for India and Australia restrict India’s tail from adding crucial runs to the score. In the last 30 balls, India: 28/5

Wicket! Goswami is stumped! Jhulan Goswami tries to play across the line against Ellyse Perry but misses it and it crashes into her stumps. She walks back on 2 off 3 and Perry gets her second. India 211/6. The surge of late wickets has cost India a lat flourish they would be planning. Four wickets for 8 runs now.

Wicket! Healy stumps Harmanpreet! Schutt gets her first wicket as Harmanpreet fails to read the ball, misses it and can’t make it back to the crease as Healy, quick as ever, whips the bails off. Harman is out on almost 23 off 22 – the only one with a strike rate in excess of 100.

Wicket! Two wickets in that over! Veda Krishnamurthy is run out on a a first-ball duck as Harmanpreet refuses the second run. India’s running between the wicket hasn’t been urgent enough throughout the day and a run out was imminent. India 206/4

Wicket! Punam Raut falls after her brilliant ton! The Indian opener falls in the 47th over as she takes the aerial route against Ellyse Perry, but she doesn’t quite the distance and it goes to Nicole Bolton who takes it safely. Raut walks back on 106 off 136 to handshakes from everyone on field to pats from her teammates, raising her bat as she goes. Deserves all the plaudits, this has been an exceptional innings against defending champions Australia!

Century for Punam Raut! What a stellar performance! Her second ODI ton and what a time to get to it! She started cautious after her partner fell early and consolidated slowly, but steadily to find her groove and play her shots. The shots themselves were exquisite, gold, old touch batting that pierces gaps and finds boundaries. She reach three-figures in 129 deliveries and it the opener’s knock that has kept the Indian innings together.

Wicket! Mithali Raj’s record innings comes to an end! In the end, a soft dismissal for the Indian captain after a knock studded with records. Raj offers a simple return catch to spinner Kristen Beams and has to walk back on 69 off 114 balls. India 166/2.
Harmanpreet Kaur walks in at No 4, and the attacking batter will have to make sure India’s scoring accelerates even further in the death overs.

End of Over 40, India 164/1: Australia use spin from both ends to begin with in the Powerplay as Gardner and Jonassen give away 6, 4, 10, 6 runs in the first four overs. Lannign the brings in Schutt and conceded 7. Overall, India make 33 in the Batting Powerplay, crossing the run rate of 6. The Indian batting was positive in the Powerplay with Raut going for her shots, and Raj coming down the track to spinners.
Australia took a questionable DRS review over a LBW to Raj after the on-field umpire declined the half-hearted appeal. The review is also turned down by the third umpire after the ball is shown not to be pitching in line. Clutching at straws?

End of Over 35, India 131/1: Good, strong cricket from India in the last five overs – 28 runs off it and a positive rise in momentum. Elyse Villani was introduced, Schutt brought back, Gardner and Jonassen used, as Australia try hard to break the Raut-Raj partnership before the Batting Powerplay begins. But the Indian batters are resolute and will look to use the wickets in hand to go big in the next five overs with field restrictions.

Fifty for Mithali Raj! Couple of records later, the Indian captain now reaches her 49th ODI half-century. It may have taken her 96 deliveries, but she is now slowly building steam. No celebration from the veteran though, she knows she has a job to do.

End of Over 30, India 103/1: The last five overs have been much, much better from India as both Raut and Raj have found the boundaries. The duo have put together 24 runs in the last 30 balls and taken the partnership to 94. En route, Mithali Raj breaks a couple of records and crosses 6000 ODI runs – the first to do so. But the highlight was the way Raj reached the milestone – a stunning straight drive that sails over the boundaries for the first six of the innings. Raj has found her sweet timing again, and the record must have freed whatever mental blocks there were.

Another record for Mithali Raj! She is now the highest run-scorer in women’s ODI cricket, the Indian captain goes past Charlotte Edwards tally of 5992 runs. Now to become the first woman to score 6000 runs.

End of Over 25, India 79/1: Raj cutting loose slowly, with two sweeping strokes off Jonassen in the 21st, but neither get her a boundary. However, Raut gets into the zone in the next over as she takes on Gardner’s off breaks with two powerful strokes for two fours – a brilliant improvised shot to use the turn and then a textbook sweep through midwicket. This fruitful over prompts Lanning to bring back Perry in the attack and it pays off at once as Raj is unable to get past the pacer. But Raut plays a cheeky scoop over the keeper in the next over to keep the scoring going. She gets another excellent boundary in the next over to get her half-century.

Fifty for Punam Raut! And she gets there slogging Perry! This is her 10th ODI half-century and she has got it a time when India really needs the opener to dig in. Incidentally, it’s Raut’s 50th ODI game. What a glorious shot to get to the milestone though, a sharp, angled hoick off one of Australia’s fastest bowler. Picture perfect!

End of Over 20, 55/1: India are slowly but steadily building on after Mandhana’s early wicket. They have crossed the 50-run mark in the 18th over, thanks to a cracking boundary through covers from Raj. Raut and Raj have put together a sedate partnership of 46 so far, playing spin from both ends now. Meanwhile, the Indian captain is closing in on a huge record – the highest run-getter in ODI history.

DRS gives Mithali Raj another life! Left-arm spinner Jonassen raps the Indian captain on the pads with an angled delivery and appeals. The umpire takes his time but gives it out LBW. But Raj is convinced it wasn’t hitting stumps and reviews it – which turns out to be a masterstroke. Replays show the ball is just missing stumps and Raj survives.

End of Over 15, 39/1: Ellyse Perry into the attack now, in the 11th over. The pacer maintains the pressure over India with only 2 runs in her over. Kristen Beams takes over from Jonassen but continues with a similar tight line. But Raj finally gets a boundary as a wide-ish ball from Perry is dispatched to the boundary. Raut tries to similarly drive in the next over off Beams, but Australia’s superb fielding restricts India to only 2. Perry bowls another sharp over as India’s continue to plod through, only 14 runs in the last five overs.

End of Over 10, 25/1: Australia continue to put the Indian batting under pressure. Gardner bowled another cheap over but was replaced by left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen in the eight over who gets in another tight over. But India finally break the shackles – momentarily at least – in the 9th over with eight runs coming off it. Punam Raut gets both the boundaries with her delightful touch batting – a cover drive to start the over and another stylish drive piercing the gaps to end it. However, Jonassen’s 10th over is a maiden as India starts slow once in the Powerplay once again.

End of Over 5, India 11/1: Megan Schutt started with the new ball for Australia and bowled a nice, tight line giving away only two. Lanning introduced spin from the other end right from the start and Ashleigh Gardner’s offbreaks concedes only two. But she strikes big in her next over, getting Smriti Mandhana caught behind. She hadn’t looked settled from the start, pulling Schutt’s short ball in the previous over which went high but fell just short of the two running fielders. In the end, it’s another failure for the 20-year-old after her high-flying start at the campaign and a wicket maiden for Gardner.

Only 11 runs in the first five overs of the Powerplay. The onus will now be on the experienced Raj to steer India’s scoring here, along with Punam Raut.

Wicket! Mandhana falls early again! Australia have struck in the fourth over with spinner Ashleigh Gardner getting the breakthrough. Smriti Mandhana tried to play the ball, but is rooted in her stance and it’s edged right behind to keeper Alyssa Healy who is standing close to the stumps. India needed the aggressive opener to go for runs today but she has fallen on a 10-ball 3, a single digit score for the fourth straight match. India 9/1

And captain Mithali Raj comes in at No 3, ahead of Deepti Sharma.

Before the match begins, here’s Prem Panicker’s column on why the Women’s World Cup is the last refuge for the cricket tragic.

Playing XIs

Australia have won the toss and Meg Lanning has decided to put India in. Indian captain Mithali Raj says she said she would have chosen to bat first as well. Big match this, and India will look to start strong and set a strong target. Both India and Australia are unchanged.