England's women showed the men how to perform as they convincingly beat South Africa by nine wickets in their World T20 semi-final in Dhaka. They will now face the old enemy Australia in Sunday's final.
Fielding first, after winning the toss, England made early inroads into the South African top order with Anya Shrubsole, player of the match, taking 2-12 in her four over spell. Shrubsole got England off to a perfect start by dismissing opener Lizelle Lee and number three Trisha Chetty with her accurate in swing bowling. She was a constant threat as South Africa failed to come to terms with the swinging white Kookaburra ball.
Going into the game England were clear favourites to progress and Shrubsole's early burst ensured that they gained control of the match very early on and, in truth, never let go of it.
Shrubsole is now the leading wicket taker in the competition with 12 wickets, a record in a women's World T20 tournament.
South Africa did not help themselves though by contributing five run outs to their innings. This was an area that they clearly need to improve as they contributed to most of the run outs with woeful judgement. However, England were also very good in the field. Five run outs in an innings were also a record in a women's T20 game.
South Africa's middle order player, Chloe-Lesleigh Tryon, gave South Africa some hope with 40 runs from 31 balls but England's Rebecca Grundy with 2-22 backed up Shrubsole with fine figures herself. Even on a slow wicket South Africa's final total of 101 all out in the final over never looked like being enough.
In reply England needed to score at just over five an over with captain Charlotte Edwards and wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor opening the batting. Edwards was fresh from scoring her 2,000th T20 run during her innings of 80 against Bangladesh earlier in the tournament.
Both players used their experience to give England the perfect start, adding 67 runs before 18 year old South African spinner Sune Luus dismissed Edwards , caught and bowled, for 36 off 40 balls. This gave the South Africans a glimmer of hope but in the end it proved to be the only wicket that they could muster.
Despite the threat of a storm throughout their innings England were never behind the required run rate.
Heather Knight, batting at number three, joined Taylor and continued where Edwards left off as they steered England home with more than three overs left. Knight finished with 21 off 16 balls, whilst Taylor batted through the innings for an unbeaten 47 off 45 balls to guide England to a nine wicket victory and into their second successive World T20 final.
England have been playing very consistently throughout the tournament and have now won four of their five games but the impressive Aussies now await them in the final after they beat the West Indies in the other semi-final. This is a repeat of the last T20 final when Australia beat England. England and Australia have locked horns all winter in their Ashes clashes Down under so both sides will know each other well going into the final on Sunday.
Whilst England produced a very clinical and professional display against South Africa, they will have to up their game if they are to defeat the Australians. It should be a great spectacle for women's cricket and should also be a very close, hard-fought game.
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