Australia all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner admitted her side believed the momentum was against them in their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 semifinal against India before fighting back for a five-run win.

Gardner was named player of the match as she made 31 and took 2/37 as Australia narrowly defended 172 to reach their seventh consecutive ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final.

A half-century from Beth Mooney plus 49 not out from Meg Lanning had set Australia up for a straightforward bowling innings but India did not lie down.

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Jemimah Rodrigues and Harmanpreet Kaur combined for a 69-run stand as India rebuilt from 28 for three in the powerplay.

Both batters were victims to unfortunate dismissals, Rodrigues caught behind off a delivery that would have been a wide if she had left it, while Kaur’s bat got stuck in the pitch to see her run out.

India were then restricted to leave 16 needed off the final over which pinch hitter Deepti Sharma could not provide.

“I think at the ten-over mark in India’s batting innings, everyone had probably written us off, but I think that just shows the character within our side,” Gardner said.

“That’s why the best teams win in those types of positions, that’s what we speak about. When our backs are up against the wall, we always try and find a way.

“Today, we probably had no right to win. At one point there, they were cruising and then we found a way to get some wickets and ultimately came out on top.”

With the game in the balance, Gardner believes Australia’s fielding made the difference.

While India dropped Lanning on one and Mooney on 32, the holders took their chances, also stopping boundaries, including a diving stop from Ellyse Perry in the penultimate over, which in the end proved vital.

She added: “We showed our class in the field. We always speak about being the best fielding team in the world and I think today really showed that.

“Ellyse Perry was elite on the boundary, she probably saved six runs herself. To think, whether it’s dropped catches, missed opportunities in the field, those ultimately add up to quite a lot of runs.

“We took those chances in those pivotal moments when we really needed to and I certainly think Pez (Perry) was probably the blueprint for our side going forward, certainly on the boundary.

“That could have been something that I guess was a difference between us and them.”

A dejected Harmanpreet Kaur took heart from her team’s fight as they once again came agonizingly close to knocking Australia off their perch.

She said: “We always back ourselves whenever we play against Australia because we know we have beaten them two times in the World Cup and then once in the home series.

“So, we know when we play good cricket, we can beat any team and today we were looking in good shape, but unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.

“The good thing is the match went to the last over, we didn’t give up easily. That’s what we discussed that we will fight to the end and it was good to see that we did that.”

Kaur will now look to help her side move on from the defeat, although she has vowed that her side will have learned from the loss when they next step onto a World Cup stage.

“We have to accept whatever happened but otherwise, I’m happy with the way we played cricket throughout this tournament,” she said.

“We saw a lot of positives in this tournament and whenever we come next time to play any ICC tournament, we’ll think about these things.”

Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.