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India fly out on a flung bat as Australia build on greatness

India fly out on a flung bat as Australia build on greatness

India fly out on a flung bat as Australia build on greatness

Rarely in the long and winding annals of bat-throwing has a specimen been hurled with as much vitriol as Harmanpreet Kaur unleashed at Newlands on Thursday. Her respiratory tract infection still stuck in her throat, her helmet ripped off her head, her eyes ablaze, she let fly with visceral anger.

Rather than a scene from a cricket match, it was straight out of a cage fight. Actually, it might have had her disqualified from a cage fight. Whatever else you do around this woman, do not get in her way.

The bat flew many metres into the outfield as if it had been spat out of Harmanpreet's consciousness never to return, twisting and turning gracelessly through the afternoon air, then landing ugly, bouncing back up, and travelling further still towards the dark alley of shadow cast by the members' pavilion, whose denizens would deplore such behaviour. Happily, hardly any of them were in attendance.

Don't feel sorry for the bat. It was not innocent. The damn fool thing had lodged itself in the pitch instead of gliding seamlessly across the turf and the crease, and causing Harmanpreet to be run out. It had earned its unscheduled journey to nowhere.

Yes, Harmanpreet should have angled her bat better to avoid her fate. Yes, players are taught to do what she failed to do when they are children learning the game. No, she didn't deserve to be cast as the villain of her team coming closer than most to beating Australia in a T20 World Cup semifinal. She might disagree.

In fact, India scored three runs off the next six deliveries after the runout. But she wasn't wrong - that's where the match was won and lost. Harmanpreet's dismissal ended a stand of 35 off 26 with Ghosh, which followed her partnership of 69 off 41 with Jemima Rodrigues. When India's captain took guard, at 28/3 in the fourth, her team needed 8.88 runs an over. When she was removed, they needed 40 off 32. The match was there for the winning. Until it wasn't.

"My runout was a turning point. Otherwise we were in the game. Everything was going in our favour. It was a disappointment because the way I was batting, that was the only way for me to get out. The way I was meeting the ball, I knew how to take this innings to the end. From the Australian team's body language, it looked like they had given up the match. But the moment I got out the momentum shifted."

India finished five runs shy of overhauling Australia's 172/4, but the truth of it was they had no right to run the perennial and defending champions that close. They had put in a shocking display in the field, leaking runs alarmingly and dropping three catches, and their bowling was scarcely better.

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