Eng­land aim­ing to save best for last at Lord’s

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

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

Score­board

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.

JA­SON CAIRN­DUFF / AC­TION IM­AGES VIA REUTERS

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.

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