The White Ferns are going to have to produce a feat they haven't accomplished since 2017 to make the semifinals of the Twenty20 World Cup.

A thrilling three-run defeat to India has left the Ferns in all likelihood needing to beat Australia in order to progress to the final four – a daunting task against the world No 1 side; a team they haven't beaten in their last four meetings.

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Such a scenario assumes both teams take care of business against Bangladesh in their next encounters – the White Ferns' showdown coming on Saturday - but if so, the final group game on Monday will decide whether the White Ferns live on at the tournament.

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Their hopes of progression would have been much simpler had they chased down India's middling 133-8 today in Melbourne, but despite a scintillating final surge from Amelia Kerr, they fell just short.

Needing an unlikely 34 off the last two overs, Kerr nearly produced a magical victory, hitting 18 off the penultimate over from Poonam Yadav, before a Hayley Jensen four, three singles and a stunning Kerr scoop over third man for four left the White Ferns needing five off the final ball to win, and four for a - gulp - Super Over.

However, Kerr - who finished unbeaten on 34 off 19 balls - couldn't connect off the final ball, with Pandey nailing a yorker into her pads, leaving India with a sigh of relief and the White Ferns wondering what could have been.

Their bowlers had given them a chance, having pegged India back from a strong start. India were ready to launch at 68-1 after nine overs, with 16-year-old star Shafali Verma benefiting from poor New Zealand fielding to hit 46 from 34 balls.

However, her dismissal, along with those of fellow Indian dangerwomen Smriti Mandhana (11), Jemimah Rodrigues (10) and captain Harmanpreet Kaur (one) saw India tumble.

Amelia Kerr bowled well for the White Ferns. Photo / Photosport
Amelia Kerr bowled well for the White Ferns. Photo / Photosport

Star spinners Kerr (2-21) and Leigh Kasperek (1-19) did most of the damage, though some handy late runs saw India scrape through to a defendable total – soon to become an increasingly defendable total, thanks to the cheap dismissals of the New Zealand top order.

Neither Rachel Priest (12 off nine balls) nor Suzie Bates (six off 13) could turn around their recent patchy form, but India's biggest scalp came when Sophie Devine fell.

Devine had made fifties in a record-breaking six straight Twenty20 internationals, but there was always the sense that the White Ferns relied too heavily on their inspirational skipper. Strangely enough, it was a 57km/h wide full toss that ended her record run, with Devine slicing Yadav's delivery to backward point, departing for just 14 from 21 balls, and leaving her side in peril at 34-3 after 8.1 overs.

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Maddy Green had spoken pre-tournament of the importance of other batters stepping up, and her 24 from 23 balls was a solid effort, but with the run-rate rising above nine an over, she went down the wicket and was stumped.

Without Devine to anchor the innings, the innovative Katey Martin tried her hand at the task, but her 25 from 28 balls was also too slow for the job required, and left Kerr and Jensen with quite the improbable task.

They nearly pulled it off, until Pandey held her nerve, and sent the White Ferns' Cup campaign into must-win territory.