Mumbai: Underdogs West Indies stunned five-time champions Australia by eight runs in a thrilling low-scoring Super Six stage match to storm into the final of the ICC Women's Cricket World Cup against the same opponents at the MIG Club ground on Wednesday.
Needing to win the match to qualify for the February 17th final at the Brabourne Stadium, the Windies women defended their modest total of 164 with plenty of zeal and pluck to snatch victory with eight balls to spare.
West Indies' first-ever win over Australia in ODIs also rendered today's other Super Six game between defending champions England and New Zealand at the Brabourne into an academic affair as irrespective of whoever wins that game, they will have to fight again for the third place play-off on February 15.
Both Australia, who have already booked their berth ahead of their final league match, and the West Indies secured eight points from four wins in the Super Six stage.
Chasing a modest total of 164 set by West Indies, Australia were inching their way to the target after facing some anxious moments early on after the loss of openers Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes with only 32 on board, when disaster struck in the form of the dismissal of top scorer Alexandra Blackwell for 45 off 83 balls with four fours.
From 130 for four, Australia slumped to 156 all out in a dramatic collapse following Blackwell's departure while playing the sweep shot and falling leg before to Stafanie Taylor.
Her wicket, after she had added 41 runs with captain Jodie Fields triggered a slide in which Australia lost six wickets for the addition of 26 runs to slump to their defeat.
The Aussies lost Blackwell, Fields and Julie Hunter for the addition of one run to stare defeat at 131 for 7 and then Renee Chappell at 140.
Erin Osborne kept Australia in the hunt with a defiant 19 but ran out of partners at the other end and then finally departed when she was caught behind trying to scoop left arm bowler Shanel Daley who secured three for 22.
Earlier, the five-time champions bundled out their opponents cheaply after the latter chose to bat first on winning the toss.
Barring the hard-hitting Leandra Dottin who made a breezy 60 of 67 balls with a six and 10 fours, had no answer to combat the skills of the Australian medium-paced attack.
The Caribbean women folded up in 47 overs at the small ground where they made a record 368 for 8 in the preliminary league game against Sri Lanka.
Apart from Dottin, three other players - opener Natasha Mclean (26 in 34 balls with 4 fours) and tail-enders Shaquana Quintayne (15 in 48 balls) and Tremayne Smartt (10) - reached double digits.
Chasing the none-too-difficult target, Australia were in some early trouble when Meg Lanning and Haynes were sent back by Shane Daley before the 12th over.
Cameron and Blackwell batted well to restore stability to the innings.
Though the former was bowled playing across to Shaquana Quintayne after hitting 5 fours in her 60-ball essay and Sthalekar was run out by a direct hit from mid-wicket, they appeared to be only minor handicaps in Australia’s pursuit of their fifth successive win the six-team second stage.
But the West Indies had other ideas and completed a glorious and all-important win by fielding brilliantly throughout and effecting three run-outs too at crucial stages.
Apart from Daley, Stefanie Taylor picked up two wickets while Tremayne Smartt and Shaquana Quintayne got one each.
After the loss of the two openers, Jess Cameron (39) and Blackwell steadied the rocking boat with a partnership of 47 runs for the third wicket.
Though Cameron departed at 79 followed by Lisa Sthalekar 10 runs later, Blackwell partnered her captain Jodie Fields to put on another important stand for the fifth wicket and help Australia cross the 130-mark.
In the morning, West Indies, who were just one win away from making the February 17 final of the tournament against the same opponents, lost wickets regularly to the medium pace duo of Megan Schutt and Holly Ferling.
The two Aussie bowlers packed off six of the top seven wickets to fall, with just 92 on board, the other wicket being claimed by off-spinner Sthalekar, who turned the ball appreciably.
Sthalekar was also the only bowler to trouble Dottin, who had hit a record 20-ball 50 at this ground against Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament, in her superb first spell of one for 15 in eight overs, before ending up with 1 for 24.
Dottin came out firing from the first ball and struck meaty fours and a six in her half century knock to take the attack to the Australian bowlers after opener Natasha Mclean made 26, was bowled when charging out to off spinner Erin Osborne.
Half the Windies side was back in the hut by the 19th over with only 59 scored, with Schutt claiming the first two wickets of opener Juliana Nero and one-down Shemaine Campbelle inside the ninth over during her first spell of 2 for 19 in 5.
Schutt finished with three for 50 in her 10 overs by adding to her wickets tally, but her figures were spoilt by Dottin who carted her for two fours to the straight field in successive balls as soon as she came in for her second spell.