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LAHORE: England sealed a place in their first World Cup final in 16 years when they extended their unbeaten run in the Women’s World Cup to five matches by defeating the West Indies by 146 runs in Australia on Tuesday. While New Zealand stayed on course for a final showdown with Charlotte Edwards’s side when they overpowered India by five wickets in the penultimate matches in the Super Six Stage. At the Drummoyne Oval, England openers Sarah Taylor (78) and Caroline Atkins (50) featured in a 134-run first wicket partnership before Claire Taylor (65) rescued her side from a middle-order collapse as the two-time former champions reached an imposing 236-8 in 50 overs. Off-spinner Laura Marsh then took 3-17 as the West Indies were bowled out for 90 in 38.2 overs, with Shanel Daly unable to bat due to illness.

At the North Sydney Oval in front of ESPN STAR Sports cameras, New Zealand rode on an excellent 71 by player-of-the-match Kate Pulford and a priceless 47 not out by Suzie Bates to achieve the victory target of 208 runs with five wickets and 15 balls to spare which made them the first side in the tournament to score over 200 runs in the second innings to win a match. While England are guaranteed a place in the March 22 final after collecting maximum points, New Zealand now have six points and can set up a repeat of 1993 World Cup final at Lord’s against England if they beat Pakistan on Thursday at Drummoyne. And if they manage to do this, defending champions Australia will be knocked out of the final race and instead will be left to play in the third-fourth place-off against India on March 21 at the Bankstown Oval. Australia’s only chance of reaching the final is if they beat England on Thursday and also hope that eighth-ranked Pakistan turn the table on New Zealand. This scenario will put both Australia and New Zealand on even points and on equal wins which will bring the net run-rate into play.

India can also come into the equation if they beat the West Indies by a convincing margin and both Australia and New Zealand lose their last matches with the net run-rate to decide which team joins England in the final. The calculations are hypothetical and highly unlikely but certainly not impossible. At Drummoyne, England showed its class in an excellent all-round performance, even though they collapsed from 134-0 to 178-5 and then from 204-5 to 225-8. However, Claire Taylor brought all her experience into play and held the middle-order innings together to help England reach the fourth highest score of the tournament so far.

Claire Taylor, the top-ranked batter in the ICC Women’s ODI Player Rankings for batters, slapped two sixes and six fours in a hurricane 65 that came off 56 balls. However, it was player-of-the-match Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins who provided England with another positive start. Taylor, the 19-year-old Londoner, was the first batter to be dismissed in England’s innings when she was run-out for a fine 78 that came off 101 balls and included seven fours. Atkins joined Taylor in the dressing room three balls later when she became one of the three Shanel Daley victims after scoring 50 from 95 balls with three fours. When Atkins reached 49, she became only the 11th Englishwoman to score 1,000 or more ODI runs after Charlotte Edwards (3,639), Claire Taylor (3,541), Janette Brittin (2,121), Laura Newton (1,324), Barbara Daniels (1,309), Sarah Taylor (1,244), Arran Brindle (1,176), Clare Connor (1,087), Carole Hodges (1,073) and Jane Smit (1,003). West Indies, in their run-chase, never threatened England and were finally bowled out for 90 in 38.2 overs .

At the North Sydney Oval, India batted first after winning the toss and despite opener Anjum Chopra’s 18th ODI career half-century managed only 207 all out in 49.4 overs. Chopra (52) hit three fours in a watchful 106-ball knock but it was Reema Malhotra’s knock that lifted India to the eventual score after they had slipped to 153-7. Malhotra clubbed eight fours in a 53-ball 59 not out. New Zealand, in their run-chase, took advantage of India’s sloppy bowling and fielding performance to achieve the victory target of 208 with five wickets and 15 balls to spare. Kate Pulford and Suzie Bates were the stars of New Zealand’s well calculated run-chase. Pulford shifted gears at the right time and finished with an excellent 71 off 88 balls that included 10 fours. Together with captain Haidee Tiffen (23), Pulford put on 78 runs for the first wicket which was a crucial partnership in the context of the match. After Pulford’s departure, Bates took the responsibility of carrying her team through by returning unbeaten on 47 that came off 65 balls and included three fours.
 
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