England aiming to save best for last at Lord’s
BRISTOL, England — Captain Heather Knight said England are yet to reach their best in the Women’s World Cup, despite beating South Africa by two wickets in Bristol on Tuesday to reach the final.
Sarah Taylor top-scored for England with a classy 76-ball 54 as South Africa fought back hard in the latter stages to take the semifinal down to the last over in their attempt to defend 218.
Two-time champion England will discover its opponent in Sunday’s soldout final at Lord’s when reigning champion Australia takes on India in Derby on Thursday.
“We haven’t put in the perfect performance together,” Knight said afterwards, acknowledging there were
areas England needed to improve in ahead of the final.
“The wicket was used and quite tired, so we were quite smart with our bowling.
“Potentially in the field there’s a few extra runs in a close match like that that plays on your mind.
“It’s not ideal that one of the top five didn’t bat through and be there at the end. It would have made things a lot easier.
“There’s still one game to go and if we put our perfect performance in then I’ll be a very happy captain.”
Set 219 to book a place in the showpiece, England made hard work of completing the chase after losing six wickets for 78 runs.
But it kept its cool in a nervy final over as Anya Shrubsole — with two runs required from three balls — hit her first four to secure victory.
That England was in a position to win the match after such a collapse was thanks to the third-wicket partnership of 78 from Knight and Taylor, who was back in her country’s colors following a year-long sabbatical from the game due to personal reasons.
But Knight admitted England could now allow itself to think about playing at Lord’s, aka the “home of cricket” in northwest London.
“It’s special,” Knight added, reflecting on England reaching its seventh World Cup final.
“We’ve known that the final is at Lord’s for a long time now and, trying not to think about it too much, it’s been at the forefront of our minds. It’s hard not to think about it.
“A final at Lord’s at a home World Cup, sold out, there’s nothing better than that for me. We set out to try and sing that song at Lord’s, everything we’ve done in the last 18 months has been towards that.”
Despite the loss, South Africa captain Dane van Niekerk was happy with her team’s run, reaching its first World Cup semifinal since 2000.
Van Niekerk hopes the feat will inspire a new generation of players back home.
“After this tournament and the performances our team have put in, you know, a lot of girls get a bit more interested in the game and try and play it and hopefully get excited for the game,” she said.
South Africa’s Dane van Niekerk is consoled by England’s Anya Shrubsole after England beat South Africa in the Women’s Cricket World Cup semifinal in Bristol, England on Tuesday.