Eng­land and South Africa clash in Women’s World Cup semi-fi­nal

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Eng­land can book a place in the Women’s World Cup fi­nal if they beat South Africa to­day as they go in search of a first ma­jor tro­phy in eight years. The pair meet in the first semi­fi­nal at Bris­tol, a ground on which they played out a record-break­ing en­counter ear­lier in this tour­na­ment.

Both sides sur­passed the 300 mark on that oc­ca­sion, go­ing on to make 678 runs in to­tal, the high­est cu­mu­la­tive score in women’s one-day in­ter­na­tional his­tory. Opener Tammy Beau­mont top­scored with 148 and will once again be the key threat for Eng­land. Beau­mont and Sarah Tay­lor (147) shared a 275-run stand in a match where Eng­land beat the Proteas by 68 runs.

But it was cap­tain Heather Knight who led from the front with a valu­able 62 as Eng­land de­feated the West Indies at Bris­tol last Satur­day to fin­ish top of the group ta­ble, hav­ing won six straight games since a sur­prise open­ing loss to In­dia. “The best part about our squad is that some­one steps up ev­ery sin­gle game,” said Beau­mont. “Heather had a cru­cial knock with the bat and then every­one did their bit with the ball and that’s re­ally im­por­tant. “We all need to be on form head­ing into a semi-fi­nal.”

Their lat­est vic­tory meant Eng­land could stay put to en­joy two full days of prepa­ra­tion in south­west city Bris­tol ahead of play­ing again in front of the loud­est home sup­port they’ve ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing the World Cup.

They will, how­ever, have to once again over­come new-ball duo Marizanne Kapp and Shab­nim Is­mail, de­scribed as the “best open­ing pair in the world” by South Africa cap­tain Dane van Niek­erk.

Con­tenders for the most im­proved side in women’s cricket, this is South Africa’s first World Cup semi-fi­nal since 2000. Who­ever wins this con­test will play ei­ther reign­ing cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia or In­dia in Sun­day’s fi­nal at Lord’s. Aus­tralia cap­tain Meg Lan­ning is ex­pected to re­turn in the semi-fi­nal at Derby on Thurs­day, af­ter be­ing rested for the con­clud­ing group win over South Africa in an at­tempt to pre­vent her ag­gra­vat­ing a shoul­der in­jury. Lan­ning, the No.1 ranked ODI bats­man, missed two of the group stage matches yet still struck 328 runs. Al­though favourites to progress, Aus­tralia come up against an In­dia side that have en­joyed play­ing at Derby, win­ning all four of their pre­vi­ous matches at the Mid­lands ground dur­ing this World Cup. Those vic­to­ries in­cluded the de­feat of Eng­land and Satur­day’s 186run thrash­ing of New Zealand in what was a straight shoot out for the last knock­out spot.

Cru­cial to both suc­cesses was In­dia cap­tain Mithali Raj, the high­est run­scorer in women’s ODI cricket, who made 71 and 109 re­spec­tively. Raj will be re­lied upon again in the semi-fi­nal and she is rel­ish­ing the re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“I’m ex­tremely happy,” she said. “For a cou­ple of us, this will be our last World Cup, so our first aim was to en­ter the semi-fi­nals. “I’ve al­ways dreamt of get­ting runs for my coun­try-that hunger never dies.”

Aus­tralia over­whelmed In­dia by eight wick­ets in pool play last week but the South­ern Stars, the six-time Women’s World Cup cham­pi­ons, re­main wary of Raj’s side es­pe­cially as they have yet to play in Derby this tour­na­ment. “They’ll be fa­mil­iar with the con­di­tions, so it’s pretty cut throat, we can’t af­ford to be off our game,” said Aus­tralia’s Nicole Bolton. —AFP

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