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Mithali Raj and match-winner Du Preez reflect on last-ball drama that knocked India out of CWC22

The fortunes of India and West Indies, and the make-up of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup semi-final line-up, came down to the very final ball of the very final game of the group stage in a dramatic conclusion.

MATCH CENTRE | FINAL STANDINGS

Mignon du Preez’s flick through the in-field saw South Africa surpass India’s total of 274/7 off the last ball of the last over to give the Proteas a famous victory and knock India out of the competition.

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It was an extraordinary finish to a superb game that India looked to have been controlling.

But the defining moment of South Africa's reply perhaps came slightly earlier, when a quickfire 17 from nine balls by power-hitter Chloe Tryon brought the required run-rate under control, allowing Du Preez (along with Trisha Chetty and Shabnim Ismail) to complete the chase.

“The most important couple of overs, I felt, was when Tryon came in,” India’s captain Mithali Raj said.

“The asking rate was around nine and she got it back to seven. And I think that that was a moment which tilted the match in their favour.

“I guess it's part and parcel of the sport that a team does well, we prepare hard, and sometimes it doesn't go our way, probably this tournament didn't go our way.”

India’s defeat saw West Indies qualify at their expense for the semi-finals, prompting jubilant scenes as the players nervously watched the drama unfold at their hotel.

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Victory for South Africa did little for their own permutation, with the Proteas having already been guaranteed to finish second in the group stage.

But victory does send the squad into the semi-finals with confidence and form on their side, having gone into the game against India on the back of a loss to Australia and a wash-out against West Indies.

And emotions were certainly running high when match-winning hero Du Preez spoke to reporters after the match.

“I think the best word would be ‘roller coaster’, right? There were lots of ups and downs,” she said.

“Myself and Kappy were going really well, so we kind of thought that between the two of us if we can take it as deep as possible we know what Chloe can do. And then I mean, as soon as Chloe came in, she made it look quite easy.

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“I think definitely playing in T20 cricket quite often around the world, it's made us used to chasing high totals and I think we always knew we were in with a shot, especially with somebody like Chloe on the side.

“I think when I was batting with Marizanne, we just said if we can keep it at eight – if you needed eight in a T20 in the last over you would be happy to get it. So we just said if we can just try and keep the run-rate at that we know that we've got power-hitters and Chloe can always bring it back.

“And I think that's exactly what Chloe did. She brought it back to a run-a-ball. And when she got out you didn't need to do anything fancy anymore. We just actually had to get bat on ball. I nearly got us into trouble by trying still to go for the boundary option and then try and keep showing intent, but luckily it turned out in my favour.”

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The final-over drama provided an entertaining finish, and a heart-breaking one for India, but Raj believes that the game was likely lost far earlier in proceedings.

“We could have added more runs from the death overs when we batted,” she said, with India mustering 50 runs from the last 10 overs having had seven wickets in hand, and with South African pacer Ismail conceding just five runs from three overs at the death.

“The spell Ismail bowled in the last five overs, after the sort of start we got and the way we had built the innings, we could have got many more runs having wickets in hand.

“My message would definitely be for the girls that of course it is disappointing for all of us. But moving forward, we have very talented youngsters in the side. And I'm sure in the coming tournaments we will have a very strong side to get into tournaments and play well.”

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