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June 18, 2009
Aimee Watkins, the New Zealand captain, played a major role in her team's resounding win over India in the first semi-final at Trent Bridge, cracking an unbeaten 89 - the highest score in the tournament - to cement a place in the final at Lord's on Sunday. The feature of her knock was her ability to ensure the momentum stayed with New Zealand despite frequently losing partners at the other end. Her innings was laced with 10 fours and two sixes, forming the backbone of New Zealand's batting effort with no other batsman scoring over 14.
"I've played some good innings, so I can't really say," Watkins said when asked if she had played her best knock. "But this would be one of my best."
"It was an outstanding performance," New Zealand's coach Gary Stead added. "For a women's cricketer to achieve that on the big stage first up is a pretty special thing to do."
In the end, a score of 145 proved more than adequate against a rusty Indian outfit, which had managed a highest score of 112 in the tournament before the game. The Indian batsmen hardly offered any resistance, mustering just 93 in their quota of 20 overs. The pick of the New Zealand bowlers was left-arm seamer Sian Ruck, who continued her good run in the competition, taking 2 for 18. Each of New Zealand's bowlers bagged at least a wicket to complete a professional display to which India had few answers. "If you bowl the right length on that pitch, it's hard to score," Watkins said of her team's performance with the ball. "But perhaps the batters could have used their feet more and been inventive."
India's captain Jhulan Goswami, who finished wicketless in the World Twenty20, was all praise for Watkins. "Aimee Watkins played superbly and 145 was a good performance," she said. "We tried to restrict them to less than 130 but the openers didn't give us a good start."
India's team manager Diana Edulji said that despite the disappointment of failing to make it to the finals, the team had a lot to gain from the experience. "Our fielding is on the weaker side but we took some good catches and there was a good run-out today," she said. "We have learned a lot from this experience and will take plenty of positives out of the tournament."
Australia take on England in the second semi-final at The Oval on Friday and winner meets New Zealand at Lord's in the final on Sunday.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.