Australia has crashed out of the Women’s Cricket World Cup at the hands of India on a chastening day for the world champions at Derby.
Chasing a seventh tournament success, Meg Lanning’s team slumped to a 36-run defeat following one of the greatest-ever innings by a female player from Sydney Thunder WBBL star Harmanpreet Kaur.
Kaur scored an unbeaten 171 from just 115 deliveries, smashing 20 fours and seven sixes to leave the six-time winners shellshocked as they were bowled out for 245 with two overs remaining.
A final-wicket stand of 76 between Alex Blackwell (90) and Kristen Beams (11 not out) added some respectability to the margin of defeat, but it masked a hugely disappointing performance.
Aside from Blackwell, a fine 75 from Elyse Villani and 38 from Ellyse Perry, no other player scored more than 14, with Lanning falling for an eight-ball duck in a rare failure with the bat.
Villani gave Australia some hope with an excellent knock in a partnership of 105 with Perry, who was unable to match the positivity of her partner in a sluggish innings.
But Victoria’s Villani, trying to get the scoreboard moving, could only pick out Smriti Mandhana at mid-on and Perry then edged behind to depart for 38 off 56 balls.
Vilani’s exit saw a collapse of 5-43 in 9.2 overs for with Alyssa Healy (5), Ash Gardner (1), Jess Jonassen (1) and Megan Schutt (1) all departing cheaply. Deepti Sharma finished with 3-59.
Heavy morning rain saw the match delayed by three hours and the match reduced to 42 overs a side but the overhead cloud gave way to brilliant afternoon sunshine after India won the toss and elected to bat.
Things started well for Australia when Schutt dismissed Mandhana for 6 Punam Raut (14) then holing out to Beth Mooney on the long-on boundary rope.
Skipper Mithali Raj and Kaur steadied the ship for India with a 66-run partnership before Raj was bowled by Beams for 36.
Raj has so often been India’s saviour with the bat, but Kaur stepped when her country needed her, bringing up her third ODI ton in bizarre circumstances.
As she scampered for the two runs she needed to raise her bat, Sharma hesitated, forcing Kaur to dive and make up her ground.
Sharma looked to have been run out by Healy only for the video review to show she had grounded her bat in time.
But instead of toasting the fervent Indian crowd, Kaur, incandescent with rage, threw her bat and helmet in the direction of her visibly shocked team-mate.
Kaur then took out her anger on the Australian bowlers, hammering 23 off a Gardner over before taking 19 from six Schutt deliveries.
Sharma (25) was then dismissed by Villani, ending a 137 partnership from just 12.3 overs with Kaur scoring 106 of them.