Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup hopes are still alive after holding off New Zealand by four runs in a sudden-death, trans-Tasman battle to secure a semi-final spot on Monday.
But the victory looks to have come at a major cost, with a shattered Ellyse Perry hobbling off Melbourne’s Junction Oval with a hamstring injury.
Australia’s superstar all-rounder was already under a major injury cloud before Monday’s crucial game after hurting her hip against Bangladesh last Thursday.
Perry survived a pre-game fitness test, taking her place in the team to hit a vital 21 before disaster struck during New Zealand’s chase of 5-155.
The 29-year-old was delivering a diving throw, but immediately winced in pain as she got up, casting extreme doubt on her availability for the rest of Australia’s shot at a fifth World Cup title.
Perry’s injury soured an otherwise impressive performance, with Beth Mooney’s 60 powering Australia to a formidable total after being sent into bat by Kiwis skipper Sophie Devine.
If the White Ferns had won it would have been the fourth-highest successful run chase in women’s T20 World Cup history.
The Kiwis looked threatening at times with the bat, on pace with Australia’s score after the power play.
We're through! A courageous four-run win over New Zealand has booked our Aussie women a place in the @T20WorldCup semi-finals alongside India, South Africa and England! 🇦🇺🙌
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) March 2, 2020
Even as wickets fell regularly, solid contributions from Devine (31), Maddy Green (28) and Katey Martin kept the White Ferns in the game.
But the total proved to be too much as young leg-spinner Georgia Wareham (3-17) and opening bowler Megan Schutt (3-28) tied down the White Ferns with brilliant spells.
Needing an impossible 10 runs to win from the final ball, the White Ferns finished off with a six.
Earlier, Mooney, who smashed an unbeaten 81 in her last innings, was forced to dig deep after opening partner Alyssa Healy tried one big shot too many and was caught at midwicket for nine.
Captain Meg Lanning (21) and Ashleigh Gardner (20) weren’t able to capitalise on their promising starts and push Australia to an even more formidable target.
Australia joins unbeaten India as semi-finalists from Group A and Lanning’s team will now face South Africa or England at the SCG on Thursday.