Last Round Saturday at #WWC17

Yesterday saw all four of the final group matches in the Women’s World Cup. As I noted on Thursday, most of the semi-final places were already decided. The one big question was who would take fourth place. India and New Zealand were playing each other in Derby for that honor.

Suzie Bates won the toss and opted to field. For a while it looked like a good choice as India were reduced to 21/2, losing both openers cheaply. There was also a brief break for rain. However, the weather improved, and with it the fortunes of the Indian batters. Harmanpreet Kaur (60), Vida Krishnamurthy (70) and, inevitably, Mithali Raj (109) enabled them to post a challenging score of 265. The Kiwi women were clearly intimidated by the total they were having to chase, and went too hard too soon. Consequently they were bowled out for 79. It was a sad end to the tournament for a very promising side, but I’m delighted to see India still in the tournament.

Down at Taunton Australia took on South Africa. Australia won the toss and elected to bat. They started slowly and cautiously, but eventually got into their stride and posted a target of 269. Nicole Bolton (79), Ellyse Perry (55) and Beth Mooney (53) all made good scores. For SA leg-spinner Suné Luus took five wickets. Meg Lanning was rested again to give her shoulder time to heal.

In reply South Africa started really well, and they were ahead of the required rate until about the 20th over. However, Australia gradually wrested back control of the game and ended up winning by 59 runs. Laura Wolvaardt (71) was their top scorer.

I spent the day in Bristol watching West Indies play England. It was not Caribbean weather. Given how cold I was in the stands, the West Indies girls must have been in fear of freezing to death. They won the toss and put England in, hoping for some help for their fast bowlers. They did OK. Both Sarah Taylor and Nat Sciver were dismissed for 0, but England has plenty of depth in batting and Heather Knight (67) led her team to a total of 220. Off-spinner Afy Fletcher was the most dangerous bowler, taking 3/33.

It was certainly an achievable target, but it needed the West Indies big guns to fire. Hayley Matthews, who had performed magnificently in the field, did her bit with the bat as well. Unfortunately she also ran out her opening partner, Kycia Knight, and after that the West Indies innings fell apart. Taylor, Dottin and Aguilleira were all out cheaply, and the English bowlers kept such a tight rein on the score that the required run rate soon became impossible. Nat Sciver, incredibly, ended with figures of 3/3 off her 4 overs. Her first ball was a rank long-hop that should have disappeared over the boundary, but Tammy Beaumont took a superb running, diving catch to dismiss Nation.

As it turned out, the match of the day was at Leicester where Sri Lanka and Pakistan were playing for pride, having both failed to win a match thus far. Sri Lanka batted first, making 221 thanks mainly to 84 from Dilani Manodara. Pakistan made a good attempt to chase, but kept losing wickets. They were finally all out for 206, but they had 20 balls left and could have won had they been able to stay in.

The first semi-final will be England v South Africa in Bristol on Tuesday. Sadly I can’t go as I have a very busy week, but England should be confident having comfortably beaten SA (scoring 373) at a match at the same venue earlier in the tournament. The second semi-final is Australia v India at Derby on Thursday. Australia comfortably won their group match in Bristol, but India will feel much more at home in Derby where they have won 4 games, including their early upset win against England, and their victory over Pakistan which saw the tournament’s only sell-out crowd thus far.