World Cup fi­nal­ists Eng­land yet to hit peak form: Knight

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Cap­tain Heather Knight said Eng­land are yet to reach their best in the Women’s World Cup, de­spite beat­ing South Africa by two wick­ets at Bris­tol on Tues­day to reach the fi­nal. Sarah Tay­lor top-scored for Eng­land with a cru­cial 76-ball 54 as South Africa fought back hard in the lat­ter stages to take the semi-fi­nal down to the clso­ing over in their at­tempt of de­fend­ing 218.

Two-time World Cup win­ners Eng­land will find out who they play in Sun­day’s sold-out fi­nal at Lord’s when reign­ing cham­pi­ons Aus­tralia take on In­dia at Derby to­day. “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 as it gets close. It’s not ideal that one of the top five didn’t bat through and be there at the end. It would have made it 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 fi­nale, Eng­land made hard work of com­plet­ing the chase af­ter los­ing six wick­ets for 78 runs.

But they kept their cool in a nervy fi­nal over as Anya Shrub­sole - with two runs re­quired from three balls - hit her first de­liv­ery for four to se­cure vic­tory. That Eng­land were 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 re­turned to the Eng­land fold for this tour­na­ment af­ter a year-long break from the game. But Knight ad­mit­ted Eng­land could now al­low them­selves to think about play­ing at the ‘home of cricket’. “It’s spe­cial,” Knight added, re­flect­ing on Eng­land reach­ing their 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.”

Al­though de­feated, South Africa cap­tain Dane van Niek­erk her­alded her team’s ef­fort, as they com­peted in their first World Cup semi-fi­nal since 2000, and hoped reach­ing the knock­out round 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. —AFP

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