Ecstatic England skipper Heather Knight revelled in her side’s nerve-shredding two-wicket victory over South Africa which propelled them to the final of the Women’s World Cup at a sold-out Lord’s.
Set 219 to win at Bristol’s County Ground, vice-captain Anya Shrubsole struck a boundary to guide England home with just two balls to spare after hearts had been set pounding by the loss of six wickets for 78 runs.
Wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor top-scored with 54, while Knight and Fran Wilson both notched 30, although Jenny Gunn’s run-a-ball 27 not out proved invaluable as the three-time tournament winners prevailed.
England will now face either defending champions Australia or India, who do battle in tomorrow’s second semi-final, in front of a capacity 26,500 crowd at Lord’s on Sunday.
“Everything we’ve done in the last 18 months has gone towards getting there,” said Knight. “There’s nothing better than a sold-out Lord’s in a home World Cup. It’s been hard not to think about it.
“We’ve known this final would be at Lord’s for a long time. It’s special and well done to the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] and ICC [International Cricket Council] for selling it out.”
South Africa’s tally of 218-6 was built upon the foundations of an unbeaten 76 from Mignon du Preez and knock of 66 by opener Laura Wolvaardt, although England only conceded 22 runs in the powerplay.
But England, who have been crowned champions on the two previous occasions they have hosted the competition, recorded a seventh straight victory despite their batting wobbles as Gunn and Shrubsole remained composed.