Australia’s imposing 172 for four proved only just enough as India replied with 167 for eight.
For India captain Harmanpreet Kaur there were tears and bitter disappointment although there was pride in her players fighting until the last ball.
Kaur admitted that she had defied illness to play and that she was not feeling well during an innings of 52 which put India in sight of victory.
India batted with aggressive intent from the first ball and for much of the innings were ahead of Australia’s total at the equivalent stages despite losing three wickets in the six-over power play.
The match turned dramatically when Kaur was run out with 40 runs needed off 32 balls.
She hit a ball to deep midwicket and seemed set to complete a comfortable two runs only for her bat to jab into the turf just short of the crease. Kaur threw her bat angrily as she walked off.
Australia survived a tense finish to beat India!What a match that was in Cape Town 👏📝: https://t.co/CGswa3eizU… https://t.co/yHa3zVHKqo
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Big-hitting Richa Ghosh was caught on the boundary off Darcie Brown in the next over and India’s hopes were effectively over, although Deepti Sharma kept swinging until the end, making 20 not out.
Lanning said she was proud of her players for staying calm during the Indian onslaught.
“This is a team that stands up in tough moments. It puts us in good stead for the final,” she said.
Australia qualified for their seventh successive final, having won five of the previous six.
They will meet the winners of Friday’s second semi-final between England and South Africa at Newlands on Sunday.
“I can’t feel unluckier than this,” said Kaur at the post-match presentation.
India lost three wickets for 28 runs inside the first four overs but Kaur and Jemimah Rodrigues kept playing their shots.
They put on 69 in a rapid fourth-wicket partnership before Rodrigues was caught behind for 43 off an attempted ramp shot against Darcie Brown.
“There was momentum when Jem and I were batting,” said Kaur.
“Even after losing wickets we knew we had a good batting line-up. We wanted to fight until the last ball. We fought in this tournament and we played some really good cricket.”
Brown took two for 18 in four overs, comfortably the best bowling performance of the day.
Beth Mooney made 54 for Australia and Lanning scored 49 not out, including two sixes off Renuka Thakur in the last over.
There were other useful contributions from Alyssa Healy, who made 25 in an opening partnership of 52 with Mooney, and Ash Gardner, who hammered 31 off 18 balls.