A no-ball robs India of a semi-final berth

By Kersi Meher-Homji

We thought India was in the Women’s World Cup semi-final when India’s off-spinner Dipti Sharma had South Africa’s Mignon du Preeze caught in the deep in the final over.

But no! The umpire called it a no-ball as Dipti’s front foot heel was a millimeter out of the crease. After about dozen replays, it was decided that it was a no-ball and the in-form batter du Preeze was recalled and she hit the winning run off the last ball.

India lost by 3 wickets instead of winning by one run. It was drama, climax and anti-climax – all in one!

The oddity was that South Africa would have entered the semi-final even if they lost to India by the point system. Before this exciting match, Australia headed the table with 14 points, S Africa next with 9, England 8, West Indies 7 and India 6. India had to win this match against S Africa to go ahead of the West Indies.

India’s narrow loss was West Indies huge gain. Now Australia will meet West Indies in one semi-final and South Africa will take on England in the second as India’s gallant girls return home with no trophy but sad faces.

Now to the India v. South Africa thriller. India batted first and scored 7 for 274 in the allotted 50 overs. Openers Smriti Mandhana (71 runs with 6 fours and a six) and Safali Verma (53 with 8 fours) gave India a solid start of 91 runs. Then Mandhana added 81 runs with skipper Mithali Raj (68 runs with 8 fours).

Harmanpreet Kaur scored 48 runs at the end of India’s innings. I felt that India should have increased their run tempo in the final 10 overs. India was going well at 3 for 223 in 40 overs. But in the last 10 overs they added only 51 runs at 5.1 runs an over. They should have added at least 80 runs in the final 10 overs to reach 300. That perhaps cost India the match and entry in the semi-final.

South Africa started briskly, their opener Laura Wolvaardt (80 runs with 11 fours) and number 3 batter Lara Goodall (49 with 4 fours) adding 125 runs for the second wicket. Then du Preez scored 52 runs guiding her team to a nail-biting last ball victory. Of course, helped by a no-ball as described previously.

It was only the second time a team reached the target on the last ball in Women’s ODI World Cup. The other instance was by Sri Lanka against England in 2013.

Mignon du Preez was made Person of the Match. She said at the presentation, “Thanks guys, and to God who even game me a no-ball (laughs). He’s definitely on my side. I’ve been very fortunate, the girls have supported me throughout even though I didn’t start well with the bat, but to be able to do it for us today was special. The plan was to take it deep, we still had time and felt it would get easier. [Marizanna] Kapp and I focused on taking it deep as [Trisha] Chloe was also slated to come in. It means the world, it’s been a tough few weeks when I haven’t contributed the way I liked but to do it when it matters and take the momentum to the semi-final, I’d take that every day of the week. Thanks to all the fans, couldn’t have done it without your support.”

Better luck in the next World Cup, Indian girls. And no no-balls, please!

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