BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — India’s women cricketers are within one win of an historic gold medal after defeating host England by four runs in a thrilling Commonwealth Games semi-final on Saturday.
After posting 164-5 in the Twenty20 format, its biggest score in the tournament, India restricted previously unbeaten England to 160-6 at Edgbaston.
It is the first time women’s cricket has been played at the Games and supporters are hopeful that a successful tournament will lead to the sport’s inclusion at the future Olympics.
More than 160,000 tickets were sold prior to the semi-final, a new record for a women’s cricket tournament, and another sizeable crowd attended Saturday’s match.
Opener Smriti Mandhana hit 61 in 32 balls to set the tone for India in its innings.
England captain Nat Sciver, who has called for women’s cricket to be included in the Olympics, top-scored with 41 in her team’s reply before being run out with less than two overs remaining.
India captain Harmanpreet Kaur said: “I am really happy. Everyone is coming in and performing for the team. (The fans) were cheering until the last ball. It was a great opportunity for all the players to perform.”
India will play Australia or New Zealand in Sunday’s final. England will meet the loser of that match in a bronze medal playoff.
On the track, India’s Avinash Mukund Sable bagged India’s first-ever medal in a long-distance event.
Although beaten by just 0.05 seconds in the 3,000 meter steeplechase by Kenya’s Abraham Kibiwot, who clocked 8:11.20, the 26-year-old runner felt encouraged by his silver medal-winning performance.
“My last lap was a bit disappointing but I am really happy,” Sable said.
India’s Priyanka Goswami also picked up a silver in the women’s 10,000-meter walk.
After failing to win gold on Day 8, they came in a rush for table-leading Australia on Saturday morning.
Ollie Hoare claimed a last-stride triumph in the 1500 meters in 3:30.12, becoming Australia’s first champion in the event since Herb Elliott triumphed in Cardiff in 1958.
He beat world champion Jake Wightman of Scotland, who led into the home straight before finishing third behind Hoare and Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot.
Australia also picked up golds in lawn bowling, gymnastics, walking and diving to stretch its lead over England after the host nation had closed the gap to three the previous day.
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