On a roll after winning six matches on the trot, hosts England have an upper hand against South Africa in the first semi-final of the ongoing ICC Women’s World Cup on Tuesday.
England bounced back well from the opening defeat to India, including a 68-run victory over South Africa, while the Proteas have won four, lost two and had one game washed out due to rain in the World Cup.
Going into the first knock-out encounter, both teams are expected to start afresh and bring out their A game.
While England boast of a strong batting line-up led by their opening batswoman Tammy Beaumont, the tournament’s leading run-getter with 372 runs from her seven innings, South Africa will hope for skipper Dane van Niekerk, the 2017 World Cup’s highest wicket-taker (15 from six matches), will rip apart the home side’s batting.
England’s fortunes will also bank on the form of skipper Heather Knight and senior batswomen Natalie Sciver, Fran Wilson and stumper Sarah Taylor.
But with a place in the Lord’s final as the prize for Tuesday’s winner, Beaumont says both teams go into the game with a clean slate.
“We did beat them in the group game, but it is going to be a clean slate on Tuesday with a lot more to play for and they will come out hard and try and make up for that defeat in the group stages,” she said.
“We have put the loss to India behind us and we have gone from strength to strength as the tournament has progressed, there are still a few areas our coach will want us to work on, but that is the good thing about us. We always want to learn and we always want to get better and we have a chance to do that.”
Beaumont said, “I think the best part of our squad is that someone different steps up every single game. Heather Knight was excellent against West Indies with a really crucial knock and Alex Hartley with the ball.”
“It is really key that everyone is on song for the semi-final,” she added.
On the other hand, back from a 59-run loss to Australia, the South African skipper believed taht the pressure is on the hosts to proceed to the final.
“We’re excited, we know any team that is in the semi-final is going to be tough to beat, so we’re going to have to bring our very best,” Dane said.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure on us at all, I don’t think most people thought we would be here. In that sense, I’m very proud of the girls, it’s our first semi-final since 2000,” she added.