Although New Zealand managed to dismiss both openers, Sarah Taylor combined with Lydia Greenway for a 40-run partnership in 39 balls. When Taylor was stumped off the bowling of Frances Mackay with 19 still needed, only to be reprieved by a no-ball, the jig was as good as up for New Zealand – though Lydia Greenway’s attempt to win the match with a miscued reverse-sweep meant that Arran Brindle had to leave the shade of the dugout and wander out to help Taylor complete the chase
England’s bowling was just as impressive in oppressive conditions and it was backed up by fleet-footed fielding and faultless catching. England have benefited from increased coaching support in the last year and their pre-eminence at this form of the game is demonstrated by the fact that they have now won 23 of their last 24 completed T20 internationals. Having beaten Australia by seven wickets in the group stage and West Indies 4-1 during their series last month, they will not mind which of the other semi-finalists they meet on this ground on Sunday.
Charlotte Edwards, who top-scored with 33, and Laura Marsh form a resourceful, aggressive opening pair and backed up by Taylor, the top-ranked women’s T20 international batsman, England have one of the most powerful front ends in the game.
In fielding an unchanged side at this tournament, and winning all four of their matches so far, their plans for regaining the title they won in 2009 have been impeccable, after a disappointing defence two years ago in the Caribbean when they stumbled out at the group stage.
Marsh was the first to depart as New Zealand sought early breakthroughs. Having seen out the Powerplay overs in tandem with Edwards, she drove uppishly to mid-off. Edwards then survived a close run-out call, failing to slide her bat in but just getting it down across the line as Taylor risked a single to midwicket off the bowling of Morna Nielsen. That moment of sloppy practice was followed up by a loose shot in the following over, as one ball after hitting Erin Bermingham down the ground for four Edwards looped a cut shot to point to give the legspinner her seventh wicket in the tournament.
That moved Bermingham ahead of Stafanie Taylor as the outright leading wicket-taker and she made one spit and bounce out of the rough to Sarah Taylor later in the same over. Nielsen, however, could not maintain the pressure, and Taylor crashed a full toss over deep midwicket for the first six of the match to ease any nerves England may have been experiencing.
After winning the toss and choosing to bowl, the first over, a wicket maiden, could not have gone much better for England. With Katherine Brunt, whose three overs cost just seven runs, maintaining a parsimonious line, the New Zealand captain, Suzie Bates, seemed anxious to get off the mark. Although the R Premadasa stadium is being used for both the men’s and women’s semi-finals, with tickets valid for both games, the few who turned up for the start could have had their pick of seats. Bates wasn’t able to use the noise as an excuse after calling for a single that wasn’t there, ending up standing next to opening partner Amy Satterthwaite as the ball was lobbed to the wicketkeeper.
The gap between start times for the two games, potentially leaving an idle window of two hours or more, did not help the attendance, although with the sun blazing down on empty bleachers, the locals may simply have chosen cooler locations to spend the afternoon.
It was certainly suffocating at the crease. Sophie Devine bottom-edged the first boundary of the innings in the fifth over but she then picked out Brunt a few yards in from rope when trying to hit Danielle Wyatt over midwicket.
The six Powerplay overs brought just 22 runs – with four coming off the last ball as Wyatt misfielded off her own bowling. New Zealand needed someone to stay with Satterthwaite but Mackay became the third wicket to fall when Anya Shrubsole looped an inswinger past the bat and trapped her in front of leg stump. The experienced Sara McGlashan did not last long, either, beaten in the flight by Holly Colvin and smartly stumped by Taylor as the ball gripped and turned past the outside edge.
Satterthwaite, who hit three of her side’s six fours, was the batsman most likely to haul New Zealand to a more imposing total but she holed out for 30 at the start of the 15th over when trying to up the run-rate. Cameos from Nicola Browne and Katey Martin helped New Zealand add a further 36 but England’s spinners continued to chip away on a slow pitch with some variable bounce. Two wickets fell in the 19th over and another in the last but by then New Zealand’s chances of reaching a third consecutive Women’s World T20 final had already been fatally undermined.