Three-time defending champion Australia stepped closer to a fourth successive ICC Women’s World Twenty20 title with an impressive five-run win over old foe England in the first semi-final in New Delhi on Wednesday.
England, runner-up to Australia in 2012 and 2014, was kept down to 127 for seven despite an opening stand of 67 in 10 overs between skipper Charlotte Edwards (31) and Tammy Beaumont (32).
Australia awaits the winner of Thursday’s second semi-final between New Zealand and the West Indies in Mumbai in the title clash at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday.
Australia’s innings was anchored by its captain Lanning, who came in to bat at the fall of the first wicket in the sixth over and stayed till the 20th over to help her team record its highest total in the tournament.
Lanning, world’s number-one ranked batter, hit six boundaries, but opener Alyssa Healy (25) was the only other player to cross 20.
The Southern Stars, who were 121 for three after 18 overs, conceded ground by losing three wickets in the final two overs for the addition of just 11 runs.
Natalie Sciver was England’s most successful bowler with two wickets for 22 runs, while Laura Marsh finished with one for 18.
England was coasting at 89 for one in the 14th over but then managed just another 38 runs for the loss of six wickets as Australia turned on the screws. Megan Schutt claimed two for 15.
Lanning said the key to winning was her team’s good start when 41 runs came during the first six PowerPlay overs.
“We knew the PowerPlay was crucial and that got us ahead,” said Lanning. “We were able to build on the momentum. And the bowlers did a great job to pull things back.”
Lanning said it did not matter whether undefeated New Zealand or the West Indies made it to the final.
“We don’t mind facing either of them,” she said. “New Zealand have obviously done well so far in the tournament and the West Indies are capable of doing anything .... even putting 160 on the board.
“It should be a good match tomorrow and we will be ready for either of them.”
Edwards said the inability to push the scoring cost her team the match.
“Australia held its nerve and that was the difference,” the 36-year-old said. “We could not keep it going. We also did not start well with the ball but at least dragged it back a little.
“It was not meant to be for us today.”
Australia beat England by five runs in New Delhi
Australia 132-6, 20 overs (Meg Lanning 55, Alyssa Healy 25; Natalie Sciver 2-22, Laura Marsh 1-18)
England 127-7, 20 overs (Charlotte Edwards 31, Tammy Beaumont 32, Sarah Taylor 21; Megan Schutt 2-15)
31 March - (Semi-final) New Zealand v West Indies (14h30), Mumbai
3 April - (Final) 14h30, Kolkata