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June 14, 2009
Claire Taylor and Isha Guha showed their class as England booked their spot in the semi-final with an emphatic 71-run victory against Sri Lanka at Taunton. Taylor hit 75 off 54 balls, an important innings with the rest of the batting less productive, then Guha produced exemplary figures of 2 for 4 from her four overs as Sri Lanka limped to 69 for 8.
Guha wasn't even meant to be playing in this match, but was drafted in at the last minute after Katherine Brunt was hit on the head. As with Nicky Shaw in the World Cup final, Guha made the most of her chance. England made a steady start to their innings as Sarah Taylor scored at more than a run-a-ball, but the middle order failed to fire as the hosts slipped to 68 for 4. However, Claire Taylor, who was dropped on 7, came to the fore with a classy innings and added 47 for the fifth wicket with Jenny Gunn, then Caroline Atkins chipped in with a useful 13 off eight deliveries as Eshani Kaushalya claimed 4 for 18.
Sri Lanka's chase was soon in trouble at 12 for 3 with Guha proving a real handful. England's spinners then tied the innings in knots as Holly Colvin collected two wickets to continue her impressive form.
"We had talked about trying to score 180 or 200 but some of their bowling was brilliant. They kept pulling these yorkers out," Taylor said. "I was a little worried with five overs to go and we were well short of par. It was just a matter of seizing the right moment. When I got 16 off an over we thought: 'Let's go from here.'"
Australia undid a gutsy batting effort from West Indies, beating them comfortably by eight wickets in Taunton. Australia also boosted their chances of qualifying for the semi-finals, recovering well from the defeat to New Zealand earlier in the competition.
A target of 136 was competitive, but Australia made little work of it with the foundation laid by opener Shelley Nitschke, who smashed a 38-ball 56, including nine fours and a six. Nitschke was involved in two important partnerships, adding 50 for the first wicket with Leah Poulton (who only scored 8) and 33 for the second with Lisa Sthalekar, who herself starred in an all-round effort. Sthalekar (34 not out) then knocked off the remaining runs with Rene Farrell (31 not out) to seal victory with 16 balls to spare, propelling Australia's net run-rate which may come into play in the unlikely event of a three-way contest for a place in the semis.
It had seemed Australia were facing a greater challenge when West Indies opener Deandra Dottin scored the fastest half-century in Women's Twenty20 internationals, off just 22 balls. But there was little support from the middle order as Sthalekar (2 for 23) and Sarah Andrews (2 for 19) stemmed the flow. A guarded 24 from Cordel Jack took West Indies to 135, but as it proved, the score was too inadequate.
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