Wyatt and Ecclestone take England to yet another World Cup final
Wyatt (R) and Ecclestone (L) took England to the final © Getty Images
A sensation century from Danielle Wyatt and a career-best bowling figures from Sophie Ecclestone took England to their sixth World Cup final. Inspired South Africa crumbled in the chase at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Thursday (March 31) as the defending champions completed a thumping 137-run victory in the second semi-final. The result now sets up the final between Australia and England in Christchurch on April 3.
South Africa’s captain Sune Luus, playing her 100th ODI, won the toss and invited England to bat. Freya Davies made way for Anya Shrubsole in England XI, while South Africa were unchanged from their match against India. England opener Tammy Beaumont started the proceedings with a cracking cover drive off Shabnim Ismail. She couldn’t capitalise on that positive start as the right-handed-batter was caught behind by Marizanne Kapp for seven.
England captain Heather Knight struggled throughout her short-lived innings, and Ayabonga Khaka eventually ended her stay with a successful review. Wyatt, on the other hand, was living a charmed life. She was dropped twice before England could reach 50-run mark in the 12th over. Lizelle Lee dropped her at first slip when the right-hander was on 22 while Kapp dropped a difficult chance at mid-wicket.
ALSO READ: I hope we get a few bouncy wickets during the World Cup: Sophie Ecclestone
The 30-year-old made the most of her opportunity by rebuilding the England innings, first with Natalie Sciver and later with Amy Jones. She brought up her second half-century of the World Cup off 56 balls. Wyatt held up one end when wickets were falling around her. Halfway through the first innings, England were steady at 121 for three with Wyatt and Jones poised to change the gears in the second half of the innings. But, an excellent diving catch from Chloe Tryon ended Jones’ crucial knock of 28 off 33 balls in the 26th over.
Despite losing wickets, Wyatt and Dunkley, who walked in at six kept the scoring rate in check with excellent running between the wickets and occasional boundaries. Wyatt got yet another life, this time from Lara Goodall when she was on 77. Goodall missed an easy chance at deep mid-wicket as Wyatt pounced on the let-offs. Dunkley took some time to get her innings going, but Wyatt was unstoppable as she reached her maiden World Cup century off 98 balls. She kept pushing after the hundred and added 29 more runs to her tally. By the time she was caught at short third by Lizelle Lee, England were looking set to go past 270.
Dunkley played her part in building the innings and scored her second consecutive half-century off 62 balls. Despite losing three wickets, England clobbered 47 runs from the last five overs. Ecclestone contributed 24 runs off just 11 balls, including five boundaries. England posted 293 for eight in the first innings and South Africa needed a record World Cup run chase to find a place in the final.
South Africa’s hopes of chasing the mammoth total were rested on the shoulders of Lee, playing her 100th ODI and no. 1 ODI batter, Laura Wolvaardt. The hopes came crashing when Anya Shrubsole caught and bowled Wolvaardt in the second over for a duck. Lee’s untimely flick found Sciver at the midwicket and South Africa were reduced to eight for two inside four overs. Captain Luus was once again shouldering the responsibility to rescue the South African innings.
ALSO READ: Marizanne Kapp’s nerves of steel fuel unbeaten South Africa
England tightened the screws with bowling changes as Knight introduced Sciver inside the powerplay and Kate Cross immediately after it. Cross immediately ended the promising partnership of 36 runs with a beautiful cutter that snuck through to take the top of the off stump. Goodall found a partner in Mignon du Preez as the pair took South Africa past 50 runs in the 14th over. Goodall’s innings came to an end when off-spinner Charlie Dean broke the promising partnership in her first over. Kapp tried to accelerate the scoring run, but she was bowled by Ecclestone for her first wicket.
South Africa’s hopes of making it to their first-ever World Cup final were dented when Ecclestone dismissed Tryon and du Preez in the span of 13 balls. South African lower-order batters were clueless against Ecclestone, who took her first career five-wicket haul in ODIs. The 22-year-old was introduced in the 24th over and she ended up taking her best figures in the ODI format. England thumped South Africa by 137 runs to mark their sixth World Cup final appearance.
Brief Scores: England 293 for 8 in 50 overs (Danielle Wyatt 129, Sophia Dunkley 60; Shabnim Ismail 3/46) beat South Africa 156/10 in 38 overs (Mignon du Preez 30, Lara Goodall 29; Sophie Ecclestone 6/36) by 137 runs. POTM: Danielle Wyatt