England made it to Sunday’s final of the Women’s World Cup, after narrowly edging past South Africa by two wickets in the first semi-final at the County Ground here on Tuesday.
After restricting the Proteas to a manageable 218/6, England survived a scare towards the end before veteran Jenny Gunn (27 not out from 27 balls, 3×4) kept her nerve to clinch the contest in the final over of the innings.
England were off to a healthy start with Lauren Winfield (20) and Tammy Beaumont (15) putting on 42 runs for the opening wicket before wicketkeeper-batswoman Sarah Taylor (54 from 76 balls, 7×4) and skipper Heather Knight (30 from 56, 2×4) stitched together a 78-run third wicket stand to demoralise the opposition.
South Africa, however managed to make inroads with skipper Dane van Niekerk effecting a brilliant run-out of Sarah and leg-spinner Sune Luus packing back the English skipper in quick succession.
Sensing a comeback, the visitors tightened the noose as England kept losing wickets at regular intervals before veterans Fran Wilson (30 from 38, 3×4) and Gunn added 40 runs for the seventh wicket to steady the ship for the hosts.
With the hosts needing 10 runs from the final three overs, England messed things around to lose Wilson and Laura Marsh (1) before Anya Shrubsole (4 not out) hit the winning boundary to take the team home.
For the visitors, Sune was the pick of the bowlers grabbing two wickets.
Earlier, electing to bat after winning the toss, South Africa rode on a 77-run third wicket stand between opener Laura Wolvaardt (66 from 100, 8×4) and Mignon du Preez (76 not out from 95, 5×4) to post 218/6.
Skipper van Niekerk (27) and Sune Luus (21 not out) came up with vital contributions lower down the order to help the Proteas cross the 200-run mark.
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England will now take on the winner of the second semi-final on Thursday between India and Australia, in the final on Sunday.
Brief Scores: South Africa 218/6 (Mignon du Preez 76 not out, Laura Wolvaardt 66, Heather Knight 1/8) lose to England 221/8 (Sarah Taylor 54, Heather Knight 30, Fran Wilson 30, Sune Luus 2/24) by 2 wickets.