Derby - India captain Mithali Raj has warned England not to
expect an easy contest when they come up against her side in the Women's World
Cup final on Sunday.
Harmanpreet Kaur struck an astonishing unbeaten 171 - the
highest score by an Indian player, male or female, in a World Cup knockout
match - to set the platform for a thrilling 36-run semi-final victory over
defending champions Australia at Derby on Thursday.
That set-up a rematch of the opening fixture of the
tournament, where India beat England by 35 runs, to decide who lifts the World
Cup trophy in front of a sell-out Lord's crowd.
"As a team we are all very excited to be part of the
final," said Raj, reflecting on India reaching their first World Cup final
"We knew that this tournament wasn't going to be easy
but the way the girls have turned up at every situation when the team needed,
whether it was the batters or bowlers, this win has definitely changed the
scenario in terms of how the girls will look up to the final.
"It definitely isn't going to be easy for England. But
it will come down to how we perform on that day. We really have to work on our
planning and strategy because England have also peaked after being defeated by
us in the first game.
"They have performed well in the run up to the final,
so playing a host in their own country is going to be a challenge. But saying
that this unit is up for it."
Player-of-the-match Kaur hit an unbeaten 171 off 115 balls,
the second highest score of the tournament.
Only her third ODI century, Kaur produced an innings of
destructive batting, smashing 20 fours and seven sixes, as India set six-time
champions Australia 282 to win.
Elyse Villani's 75 kept Australia above the required run
rate but their dreams of making it to a ninth final was lost when she was
dismissed, despite the best efforts of Alex Blackwell (90) late on.
For pre-tournament favourites Australia, it meant a second
international tournament in a row without silverware despite reaching the
knockout rounds in both.
A defeated Meg Lanning cut a solemn figure and the captain
believes there's a lot for Australia to improve on if they're to achieve more
silverware, although they are still waiting on their future with contract
discussions on-going between Cricket Australia and Australian Cricketers'
"It's definitely a very disappointing finish to the
tournament, we came here to win," said Lanning who was out for nought.
"We're going to have to look at a few things and see
what we're going to need to do, because all of the teams around the world are
"We've got a fair bit of work to do to make sure we
keep getting better to make sure we beat sides like England and India."