England sailed through to the semi-finals of the Women’s T20 World Cup after beating West Indies by 46 runs in Sydney on Sunday.
A third half-century of the tournament from Nat Sciver led the way, while a gutsy 13-ball, 23-run cameo from Amy Jones – demoted from the opening position which she has occupied for the past year – ensured England had their strongest finish of the tournament so far.
Heather Knight’s side hit 36 runs from the last three overs of their innings to finish on 143-5 – an impressive effort on a slow pitch. Sciver is now the tournament’s leading run-scorer with 202, with Knight in second on 193.
England’s young spin attack – bolstered by the World Cup debut of 21-year-old Mady Villiers – then bowled West Indies out for just 97 in 17.1 overs. Sophie Ecclestone finished with phenomenal figures of 3-7 from her 3.1 overs.
The win means England are likely to finish second in their group behind South Africa and therefore face the winners of Group A, India, in their semi-final at the SCG on Thursday. West Indies, the winners in 2016, are out of the tournament with one match still left to play.
England had begun the crucial encounter by choosing to ditch the strategy which they had so vociferously defended across the first half of the tournament. “Eighth batter” Lauren Winfield was dropped from the line-up, with Tammy Beaumont brought back up the order to open in place of Jones.
The pressure on Beaumont to justify her promotion must have been immense, and it told immediately. Playing all around a delivery from Shakera Selman, she was caught plumb lbw for a two-ball duck.
Danni Wyatt looked to try and attack her way out of her own recent dearth of runs, accumulating her highest score of the calendar year – a 27-ball 29 – before playing one uppish drive too many, brilliantly caught by a diving Selman at long-on.
Selman then added to her personal highlights reel with a direct hit from midwicket to see off the in-form Knight for 17. Knight failed to dive and could not save herself; perhaps she underestimated the accuracy of her opponents, who lost to Pakistan on Wednesday after fluffing a run out.
Sciver could have suffered the same fate at the non-striker’s end, had off-spinner Anisa Mohammed managed to release the ball after diving to retrieve it off her own bowling. Sciver was then dropped by Hayley Matthews at midwicket on the very ball that brought up her half-century.
Matthews did eventually get her woman, Sciver sending the ball safely into her hands off captain Stafanie Taylor for 57 in the penultimate over, but the damage had already been done.
West Indies’ reply was dented early when Deandra Dottin, promoted to the opening spot, fell in the third over. Disaster struck in the eighth, when Taylor appeared to injure her groin playing a shot and had to be stretchered off the pitch.
Three further wickets then fell with the score on 42, Villiers opening up her World Cup account with a wicket maiden as Shemaine Campbelle was caught and bowled. Sarah Glenn then played a part in England’s first-ever successful DRS review, as UltraEdge showed Chedean Nation had edged her ball to Jones behind the stumps.
Leeann Kirby showed some fight for West Indies, thrashing two sixes over long-on, but she eventually fell to Anya Shrubsole in the 15th over, and the rest felt like a mere formality for England.