DERBY, England (Reuters) - India are through to take on England in the Women's World Cup final after defending champions Australia fell 36 runs short of their victory target in a dramatic semi-final at Derby on Thursday.
Harmanpreet Kaur's remarkable knock of 171 not out off 115 balls helped India to a huge total of 281-4, and Australia were always struggling after slumping to 21-3 in their reply.
Alex Blackwell's valiant knock of 90 kept alive hopes of an unlikely comeback, building on good work from Elyse Villani (75) and Ellyse Perry (38), but six players being dismissed for single figures in their total of 245 all out proved Australia's undoing.
India won the toss and chose to bat, and with early rain having reduced the game to 42 overs each, made a faltering start. Kaur and captain Mithali Raj (36) took control with a stand of 66 for the third wicket, and then Kaur teamed up with Deepti Sharma (25) for the ultimately decisive partnership of 137 for the fourth wicket.
In reply, Australia were 4-1 when Beth Mooney was bowled out for 1 by Shikha Pandey, which became 9-2 when captain Meg Lanning was also bowled out for a duck by Jhulan Goswami.
Villani and Perry's fourth wicket stand of 105 gave Australia hope, and at the tail, Blackwell battled bravely, but victory proved beyond them. The only blight on a thrilling day for India fans was Kaur limping towards the end of her mammoth batting effort, raising questions over her fitness for Sunday's final at Lord's.
Reporting by Julian Shea; Editing by Toby Davis