Ton-up Raj leads India into Women’s World Cup semis – England beat Windes by 92 runs

LONDON, July 16, (AFP): India captain Mithali Raj scored her sixth one-day international hundred as she led her side into the last four of the Women’s World Cup during a crushing 186-run win over New Zealand in Derby on Saturday.

Raj made 109 in an India total of 265 for seven that also featured Veda Krishnamurthy’s 70 off just 45 balls and Harmanpreet Kaur’s 60.

New Zealand, one of the pre-tournament favourites, then collapsed spectacularly to 79 all out — their lowest ever Women’s World Cup completed total — with left-arm spinner Rajeshwari Gayakwad taking five for 15 in her first match of the tournament.

This was a virtual quarter-final between the two sides, with tournament hosts England, reigning champions Australia and South Africa already into the semi-finals ahead of Saturday’s final group matches.

“I’m extremely happy,” said Raj. “For a couple of us, this will be our last World Cup, so our first aim was to enter the semi-finals.

“I’ve always dreamt of getting runs for my country – that hunger never dies.”

Dejected New Zealand captain Suzie Bates admitted: “We were nowhere near as good as we needed to be. That’s how it’s been in pressure games this tournament — we haven’t turned up when we needed to.

“There’s going to be lot of reviews of our team because we were expected to make the semi-finals,” added Bates after the White Ferns failed to make the top four for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 1973.

India’s win saw them book a place in the second semi-final against Australia in Derby on Thursday, with England playing South Africa in Bristol on Tuesday.

The final is at Lord’s on Sunday, July 23.

England, surprisingly beaten in their opening match by India, topped the all-play-all group standings after defeating the West Indies by 92 runs in Bristol.

Heather Knight, the England captain, led from the front with 67 in a total of 220 for seven.

That proved more than enough as the West Indies were held to 128 for nine in their full 50 overs.

“The best part about our squad is that someone steps up every single game, Heather had a crucial knock with the bat and then everyone did their bit with the ball and that’s really important,” said England’s Tammy Beaumont.

“We all need to be on form heading into a semi-final.”

Australia, who lost by just three runs to arch-rivals England, finished second in the standings on net run-rate after seeing off South Africa by 59 runs in Taunton.

Despite being without injured captain and star batsman Meg Lanning, Australia still made 269 thanks to fifties from Nicole Bolton (79), Ellyse Perry (55) and Beth Mooney (53), with South Africa’s Sune Luus taking five for 67.

Laura Wolvaardt struck 71 for South Africa but the Proteas were dismissed for 210 as stand-in Australia skipper Rachael Haynes took two for 12 and Perry and Jess Jonassen also grabbed two wickets each.

“We started a little bit off with the ball and strayed a bit with our lines early but the pleasing thing was how we brought it back in the middle overs and got crucial wickets at crucial times,” said Jonassen.

Meanwhile Luus added: “It’s always great to get five wickets in a World Cup, especially against a team like Australia.

“We’re very excited to play England, hopefully we’ll get through to the final.”

Meanwhile Sri Lanka won their first match of the tournament right at the last, defeating a Pakistan side who lost all seven of their group games by 15 runs in Leicester.

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