England punch their ticket to T20 cricket final
England marched into the final of the Women's World T20 with a commanding eight-wicket victory over India in the second semi-final at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Thursday.
After limiting the previously unbeaten Indians to 112 all out off 19.3 overs, the English made light work of a potentially tricky target with an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 94 between "Player of the Match" Amy Jones (53 not out) and all-rounder Natalie Sciver (52 not out) seeing them home with almost three overs to spare.
That second result formalised another meeting of the traditional Ashes rivals in Saturday's final at the same venue after Australia dashed the hopes of title-holders and hosts West Indies with a crushing 71-run win in the first match of the semi-final double-header.
Alyssa Healy was again the outstanding performer with the bat for the three-time champions, her topscore of 46 helping to lift the Aussies to a competitive 142 for five batting first. It was enough to earn her a fourth "Player of the Match" award in five matches at this tournament after the 2016 champions were routed for just 71 off 17.3 overs.
That result was a massive disappointment for a huge home crowd but reinforced the consistent excellence of the top-ranked team in the women's T20 game who by that result went some way towards making amends for losing the final to the Caribbean side in Kolkata two-and-a-half years ago.
Any hopes for a thrilling second semi-final also disappeared after the Indians lost their last eight wickets for just 23 runs after choosing to bat first.
England captain Heather Knight finished with three for nine with her off-spinners on a helpful pitch while Kirstie Gordon was another of the slow bowlers to capitalise on the conditions. Her spell of two for 20 included the all-important wicket of captain and star batter Harmanpreet Kaur.
That dismissal was the trigger for the long collapse which frittered away the benefits of the earlier work by opener Smriti Mandhana, who topscored with 34, and Jemimah Rodriges, who contributed a run-a-ball 26.
In a surprise decision, the previously unbeaten Indians did not recall experienced batter Mithali Raj into the final eleven, choosing to retain the same team which defeated Australia in their final group game in Guyana five days earlier.
West Indies, who were also unchanged for the fourth straight match, were again let down by their top-order batting in pursuit of a target of 143 to get the final.
Sharp work by Healy behind the stumps ran out Hayley Matthews and when the excellent Ellyse Perry accounted for the dangerous Deandra Dottin and middle-order player Shemaine Campbell for just two runs off two overs, the West Indies swiftly disintegrated with only captain Stafanie Taylor (16) getting into double-figures.
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