England Women 165-2 (C Taylor 76no, Morgan 46no) beat
Australia Women 163-5 (Poulton 39, Rolton 38) by eight wickets
ICC Women's World Twenty20 semi-final, The Oval
By Peter Exley
An unbroken century partnership between Claire Taylor and Beth Morgan guided England Women to a superb eight-wicket win over Australia Women at The Oval, setting up an England-New Zealand final on Sunday.
England were not at their best in the field, allowing Australia to post 163 for five before Taylor, unbeaten on 76, and Morgan, on 46, got England home in front of a good crowd at The Oval with three balls to spare, having produced a perfectly-timed run chase to come out on top against their old rivals.
The hosts won the toss and elected to field first, an interesting decision considering that The Oval pitch was ideal for batting.
Nonetheless, they came out to bowl first but Australia got off to a flying start with Shelly Nitchske (37) and in particular Leah Poulton (39) taking the attack to the England bowlers. Katherine Brunt suffered at the hands of the Aussies, going for 39 from her four overs.
The reigning world champions were looking unusually ragged in the field dropping four catches along the way and giving away a number of misfields, but when Holly Colvin and Laura Marsh dismissed the two openers in successive deliveries, England looked to be clawing their way back into the match.
The experienced pair of Karen Rolton and Lisa Sthalekar were having other ideas though, and after a brief lull in play they began to cut loose. Rolton struck four boundaries and a huge six in making 38 from 32, and she together with Sthalekar (28) propelled their team to 163 for five from their 50 overs, a good score in anyone’s book.
"At half-time I thought perhaps it might have been a few too many runs we gave away," captain Charlotte Edwards conceded.
England looked nervous walking out to face the Aussie bowlers and, despite a brisk start from Charlotte Edwards (25) they lost two early wickets bringing together Claire Taylor and Morgan at the crease. The pair started off slowly, nudging ones and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking, but once they had played themselves in there was no stopping them.
The required rate crept up towards ten runs an over, but as the boundaries began to come the game gradually went away from Australia. The partnership of 112 came from just 75 balls and, with a boundary to hit the winning runs, player of the match Taylor was able to see her side through to a thoroughly impressive victory.
For Rolton, this was her last match in charge of the Australian side and she gave England credit for the way they had played.
"I wasnt too sure (If they had enough)," she said. "I guess it was a tough one as we had only been playing in Taunton, it was a great wicket to bat on, and I think for both teams it was quite hard to defend the boundaries, but to England's credit they came out and played very well with that partnership that obviously won them the game."
The final will now be a rematch of the 50 over World Cup final which saw England emerge victorious, and New Zealand will be desperate to avenge the defeat from earlier on in the year.
"We have had a lot of sucess against them over the last year so I can understand that," Edwards said about comments that New Zealand would have rather faced Australia in the final.
"I am sure having seen our girls bat today they will be slightly worried now because they were reported to have said that they think we have got a fragile middle order. It is going to be about who plays the best cricket on Sunday - they have a hell of a lot to prove to us, after losing out in Sydney so we are going to have to be at our very very best on Sunday if we want to win that one."
© Cricket World 2009