SA pushed England almost all the way – just 2 balls remained after Anya Shrubsole finished the chase with a boundary. England will take some heart out of having two rather close and cardiac issue inducing games go their way – one a chase and one a defense, as they head to a sold-out final at Lords on sunday.
At half way it was all going to plan, within 10 runs of 50% of the total with 25 overs left. But some poor running, risky shots, good fielding and bowling brought the game to a tense end on a slow wicket, re-enforcing the positive movements shown by the SAffers team through out this competition, with observers all agreeing they are the most improved team in the 4 years world cup cycle.
On a used pitch, SA won the toss and put England in – interesting as England have only chased once in the tournament. SA had two half centurions, but never seemed to be getting away from England with a couple of close runouts keeping the third umpire busy, including a sharp stumping by Sarah Taylor (not uncommon).
In Englands reply, Winfield dominated the early overs with Beaumont getting little of the strike, but with protection still on her wrist a couple of lovely shots were curtailed when Khaka came on, skying a catch to the SA skipper. Khaka bowled her 10 overs straight, also bowling Beamont and being treated with a lot respect in her remining overs 10 overs for 28.
The run rate was never high and Taylor and Knight were able to knock it around for lots and lots of singles. However a sharp run out, a full-toss and a sharply turning ball did for Taylor, Knight and Sciver – 145-5 with a third of the runs to get and a third of the overs to get them in. Cue Gunn, who has been key to a number of England’s innings in the tournament, and took the runrate from one a ball to half a ball. The wicket of Wilson, trying to scoop over but finding the SA keeper Chetty, and Marsh bowled, brought local Bath bowler Shrubsole to the wicket. No messing, straight to the point boundary and the England camp went mad.
Always classy cricketers and humans, kudos to Shrubsole and Gunn for going over and trying to comfort SA skipper Dane van Niekerk – suspect it will be a while before the SA team can see how much they have accomplished in this tournament.
After such a memorable game at Bristol, the second semi should have been a storming day – rain delayed the start, which gave me time for an in depth argument with gate staff who refused entry to the camera that readers can see has been round the world with me to many ICC events. It also allowed me to get my car fixed as a strange smell and sound (always pay attention to these) prompted me to look and seek help for what I thought was a broken alternator belt but proved to be a seized A/C compressor that had melted the belt! Whilst the car was running, the battery was not being charged and at some point I would have lost assisted braking and steering, which could have been a bit dangerous!
Game was centered around Harmanpreet Kaur, who having not featured much in the tournament, took her chance on a ground the Indians know well, plus a partisan crowd, to hit the ball to all parts off some rather rubbish bowling – the sight of Elyse Villani bowling in the powerplay the low point. Australia’s reluctance to have more bowling options gave the Indians, and especially Kaur, the chance to make hay, despite an attempt at a dodgy run resulting in two separate Indian drinks camps at 100, with one battered helmet. The celebrations at 150 were a lot more respectable, jubilant and normal (no pics though) and surprisingly soon – 17 balls was all it took for Kaur to go from 100 to 150!
Again, lack of flexibility in the aussie batting order had some commentators scratching their heads, Villani at 5 eventually showed some purpose, but it was left to vice-captain Alex Blackwell (I think a veteran of 4 world cups) to show more level headed-ness and eventually found a partner in #11 Beams, although perhaps more farming of the strike might have helped. Alex was making a really good fist of chasing the total down, but with over 30 needed off the last two overs, one swing too far ended the game to the Indians delight. The aussie camp looked a lot more sanguine – they knew they had under-performed, certainly in this game.
My car was fixed – phew – but all the delays, including 20 minutes of technical stump delays, meant a late finish. and still no pics…..