COLOMBO: Women’s cricket lost its most zealous following when it switched from skirts to pants. Imagine watching Maria Sharapova in leggings or Ana Ivanovic in a functional, shapeless tent. Whichever side of the spectrum you inhabit, you would admit it wouldn’t be the same. The huge R. Premadasa Stadium on Thursday spoke a similar story. The sprawling stands lay vacant and forlorn under a blazing sun, awaiting the big match in the evening, as England defeated New Zealand by seven wickets to enter their second World Twenty20 final before a handful of spectators.
The sides had also contested the inaugural final in 2009 and England, who had won then and also taken 22 of their last 23 Twenty 20 Internationals going into the semifinal, proved superior once again. They practiced with success the high art of bowling parsimony to restrict the Kiwis to 93-8 after sending them in, and negotiated New Zealand’s deployment of similar tactics to shoot down the target in 17.2 overs.
Opener Charlotte Edwards top-scored for England with a patient 33 (5x4), and Sarah Taylor (21*) and Lydia Greenway (22) ensured the bulk of the chase was seen thorugh under their watchful eyes. Although Greenway gave up her wicket with the scores tied, the win was never in doubt. Wicket-keeper batsman Taylor's unbeaten knock was tuned to the occasion, consuming 32 balls and including a wallop over mid-wicket for six off left-arm spinner Morna Nielsen.
England restrict Kiwis
Earlier, with the big game between Sri Lanka and Pakistan coming up at the same venue, tickets remained valid for both the men’s and women’s matches. But the oppressive heat kept potential spectators away from viewing England’s thorough throttling of the opposition. The Kiwis fell like a house of cards, unable to attain any sort of momentum against squeeze-dry bowling led by left-arm spinner Holly Colvin, who excelled with figures of 4-0-15-2. New Zealand never recovered from the run out of Suzie Bates in the first over and finished on 93-8, as England turned it on the field.
Opener Amy Sattherthwaite (30) put up the lone resistance, scoring half the boundaries for her team and later in the innings Nicola Browne (18) and Katey Martin (19) ensured that outright embarrassment was warded off to the extent of a few more runs. The match began with a wicket maiden and it all went downhill for the Kiwis from there. Bates was run out, No.3 Sophie Devine hit to mid-wicket when she tried to take on Danielle Wyatt, as New Zealand struggled to 22 in the Powerplay. When Satterthwaite, who had also top-scored for NZ in the 2009 final, was trapped in front by an Anya Shrubsole in-swinger, a sub-par total looked likely. 120 may have proved a handful, but defending anything under 100 was likely to be problematic against a form side such as England.