India to face England in Women's U-19 T20 World Cup final
India spun out New Zealand, before England edged out Australia in a nail-biter
It was heartbreak and ecstasy in equal measures in Potchefstroom as India and England made the final of the inaugural Under-19 Women's T20 World Cup to be played on Sunday. While India comfortably beat New Zealand in the first semi-final, tensions swayed one way and then the other before England edged Australia out by three runs in a low-scoring thriller.
Defending 99, England fast bowlers Ellie Anderson and Alexa Stonehouse struck early before legspinner Hannah Baker's triple-strike crippled Australia. She varied her flight and length to bowl Ella Hayward and then got enough purchase from the surface to have Australia captain Rhys McKenna caught at mid-off and trapped wicketkeeper Paris Hall three balls later to have them at 59 for 7.
Ella Wilson and Milly Illingworth, batting at No. 9 and No. 10, managed to hit a four apiece towards the end to get the equation down to Australia needing four with two wickets and just shy of three overs in hand. But the latter was run out via a direct hit from Ryana MacDonald-Gay from mid-off before Grace Scrivens trapped No. 11 Maggie Clark lbw with her offspin to spark off wild celebrations.
The scene was far removed from the halfway stage when Clark, Hayward and Sianna Ginger walked back with three-fors. The script went awry for England after opting to bat, as they lost wickets at regular intervals to be placed at 29 for 4 at the end of the powerplay.
The pace of Illingworth and the nagging lengths of Clark had seen the back of Liberty Heap - who has forged a successful alliance at the top with captain Scrivens - and No. 3 Niamh Holland. Offspinner Hayward inflicted further misery by breaking the back of the middle order.
But Scrivens - second at present in the tournament's list of run-scorers - held one end up even as she saw England slide to 37 for 5 in the ninth over. However, a full length ball from seamer Ginger was hard to resist for her and she holed out to Claire Moore at long-off for 20. It was only because of a 46-run eighth-wicket partnership between Stonehouse (25) and Josie Groves (15) that England had managed to get close to hundred.
India spin out New Zealand
Earlier in the day, India's spinners wove a web around New Zealand and kept them to 107 for 9 before a masterclass from opener Shweta Sehrawat helped them cruise to an eight-wicket win. Sehrawat scored an unbeaten 61 off just 45 balls with ten fours and was involved in a second-wicket partnership of 62 with Soumya Tiwari (26). It was her third half-century in the competition, by virtue of which she found herself atop the batting charts.
This was after legspinner Parshavi Chopra, who shone with a Player-of-the-Match performance against Sri Lanka, starred with three for 20 to leave New Zealand short of par. She broke the 37-run second-wicket partnership between Georgia Plimmer and Isabella Gaze (26) by trapping the latter lbw.
Only Plimmer offered some resistance with the bat with a 32-ball 35 and she was the seventh batter out with the score on 91.
S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo