England set up WC final against Australia

Christchurch, March 31 : Defending champions England have set up the ICC Women’s World Cup 2022 final against tournament favourites Australia after a 137-run victory over South Africa on Thursday. The last time Australia and England met in a Women’s World Cup final was 1988. The teams will compete for the coveted 2022 trophy on April 3. In a re-match of the 2017 semi-final, England once again came out on top of South Africa in the 2022 knockout match at Hagley Oval. England’s early strikes left South Africa teetering in their massive 294-run chase. The Proteas lost their in-form batter and tournament’s leading run-scorer Laura Wolvaardt for a duck as she was caught and bowled by Anya Shrubsole. England bowlers tightened the screws, reducing South Africa to 95/4 after 25 overs. Shrubsole, the hero of the 2017 finals, ended Lizelle Lee’s (2) torrid time in the middle as the opener flicked an inswinging delivery straight into the hands of Nat Sciver at mid-wicket. Lara Goodall and skipper Sune Luus tried to steady the ship, stitching 36 runs together. But Kate Cross got through Luus’ defence and sent her packing for 21. Charlie Dean then piled further misery on the South Africans as she knocked over the timber of Goodall (29). Veterans Mignon du Preez and Marizanne Kapp were the last hope but the introduction of Sophie Ecclestone ended that. A tossed up delivery by Ecclestone hit the top of middle, sending Kapp back to the dugout for 21. The left-arm spinner then cleaned up du Preez for 30. Ecclestone finished with the figures of 6/36 as South Africa folded for 156 after 38 overs. Earlier in the day, Wyatt (129 off 125 balls) powered England to post 293/8. The experienced campaigner’s fortuitous knock took England to a big total after being dropped five times. Wyatt, who hit 12 boundaries, was ably supported by Sophia Dunkley (60) and Amy Jones (28) during the middle overs. Experienced duo Shabnim Ismail (3/46) and Kapp (2/52) bowled well, but Wyatt scored freely against South Africa’s other bowlers. Kapp provided South Africa the perfect start, dismissing Tammy Beaumont (7). England skipper Heather Knight joined Wyatt and the duo set about steadying England’s innings. Their plan was cut short by Ayabonga Khaka as she removed Knight (1 off 19 balls). Khaka (1/66) trapped Knight, who was overly cautious at the crease, lbw but not before convincing her captain Luus to go for a review. Adding to England’s woes, big-hitter Sciver (15) fell to quick Ismail which reduced England to 77/3. Wyatt and Jones then added 49 runs together for the fourth wicket. Luus brought Kapp back into the attack and the pacer picked up her second when Chloe Tryon hung on to a good catch to send Jones packing. Dunkley proved the perfect second fiddle as she along with Wyatt combined for a 116-run stand that set England on their way to post a challenging score on board. Brief scores: England 293/8 in 50 overs (Danni Wyatt 129, Sophia Dunkley 60; Shabnim Ismail 3/46) beat South Africa 156/10 in 38 overs (Mignon du Preez 30; Sophie Ecclestone 6/36, Anya Shrubsole 2/27) by 137 runs.

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