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Australia Women storms into World T20 final

Lanning fifty sets up defending champion's 132/6 before bowlers fight back to script five-run semifinal win

30 March 2016 18:31 By Snehal Pradhan, New Delhi

Twice in the ICC Women's World T20 2016 group stage, England Women left it to the very end before scraping through. In the semifinal against Australia on Wednesday (March 30), however, the side's middle-order frailties were exposed, its run in the tournament brought to a halt with a five-run loss.

England won the toss and opted to chase on a good batting wicket in the knockout clash between the Ashes rivals at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The decision backfired, as its batters could not cope with the pressure of the chase, allowing Australia to seal a place in its fourth straight Women's World T20 final.

Meg Lanning, the Australian captain, scored her second fifty of the tournament to help improve Australia’s T20 head-to-head record against England, which stood at 10-14 in England’s favour before this match. Her 55 off just 50 balls lifted the side to 132 for 6, which proved too much for England, despite its good start.

Tammy Beaumont and Charlotte Edwards, the England openers, raced to 40 for no loss in the Power Play. Beaumont was dropped twice in the fourth over, either side of some breathtaking shots, including the first six of the match, a sublime flick over square leg off Ellyse Perry.

Edwards, the leading run-scorer of the tournament, having spoken of playing 360º in the pre-match press conference, walked the talk, unfurling paddle and reverse sweeps to complement her excellent leg-side play.

After Edwards fell for 31 off 29 balls, the Southern Stars could have sent back Sarah Taylor for four, but Elyse Villani dropped a running catch at long on. Yet, tight bowling meant the required run-rate went up steadily. The pressure got to Beaumont, who top-edged Megan Schutt (2-15).

With 43 required off the last six overs, Perry doubled the pressure, conceding just one run and rearranging Natalie Sciver’s stumps in the 15th over. Heather Knight holed out soon after, and Taylor’s attempt at 360º-cricket proved her downfall when she scooped a slower ball straight to the wicketkeeper.

Kathrine Brunt hit a four and a six to offer England hope, but she was quickly dismissed and the equation of 21 runs off the last two overs was too much for England’s lower order.

Earlier, sent in, Australia made a brisk start. Alyssa Healy (25 off 15 balls) effortlessly shrugged off her run of low scores and combined with Villani to set up a 41-run opening stand in just five overs. England countered with a double bowling change in the fourth over, which fetched the wickets of the openers.

Then, Lanning took centre stage.

The captain looked a threat as soon as she came on, scoring heavily through her favourite point region. If she was not taking advantage of the width offered by the England bowlers, then she created her own, backing away and often cutting balls off her stumps to the point boundary. Five of her six boundaries came through or behind point. Lanning’s innings helped Australia race from 66 for 2 after ten overs, to a 110 for 3 in 15, and finally to 132 for 6.

She was lucky not to be run out on 20 when Danielle Wyatt pushed a throw wide of Taylor. She was finally undone by a direct hit from long on, but the damage had been done.

Australia might have liked ten more runs going into the break. But in the final analysis, it was enough to have the side celebrating and staying on course to defend its title.

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