It’s impossible to miss the narrative around the second semi-final at the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 on Thursday at Hagley Oval in Christchurch.

It is South Africa’s shot at redemption that comes after missing out on a place in the 2017 final after a heartbreaking defeat to England. It is England’s quest to repeat the thrilling win from five years to re-enter the final, after seemingly being down and out in this tournament with three straight defeats at the start.

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England chased down 219 with two balls to spare as Anya Shrubsole set up her final heroics by striking the winning four, going on to take six for 46 against India at Lord’s to hand England their fourth title.

The defending champions have been involved in more tight encounters this time, losing their first three games by narrow margins to put them in a knockout mindset from the fourth group match.

Having come through to the semi-finals, they face a stern test in South Africa whose only defeat came to Australia and have shown that the fragility that cost them in previous ODI and T20 World Cup semi-finals is a thing of the past.

South Africa beat England by three wickets in the league stage as Marizanne Kapp put in a starring performance with both bat and ball, taking five for 45 in what marked the tournament’s best figures so far.

Since that defeat, England have won every game as their road to redemption continues, and while their top-order batters have failed to click at the same time, their spinners are saving the day.

Sophie Ecclestone is the top wicket-taker so far in her first ODI World Cup, having taken 14 wickets, while Charlie Dean is not far behind with 10 having only made her World Cup debut in the match against South Africa.

Despite her wicket-taking exploits, Ecclestone has competition for the best 22-year-old at the tournament with South Africa opener Wolvaardt leading the run-scoring charts.

Wolvaardt is still searching for a first World Cup century but has piled on 433 runs at an average of 61.85, with only Australia’s Beth Mooney boasting a better average.

It ensures that South Africa v England will be a titanic clash between bat and ball.

Group stage meeting

It was another late thriller involving South Africa as they defeated defending champions England by three wickets with four balls remaining in Tauranga.

England were rescued from a poor start by a 107-run partnership from Tammy Beaumont and Amy Jones before Marizanne Kapp fought back with her first international five-wicket haul to set her side 236 to win.

Kapp followed Laura Wolvaardt’s lead with the bat to set up a nail-biting finish before Trisha Chetty hit the winning run for South Africa’s first World Cup win over England in 20 years.

South Africa chose to bowl in that game.

Opener Wolvaardt was given a few lives in a fielding performance that signified the early tournament jitters for England. She made England play.

Shrubsole added a late twist when she trapped Kapp LBW for a brilliant 32, to leave South Africa needing 10 to get from the final 10 balls.

But in the end, Chetty and Shabnim Ismail got South Africa home with four balls to spare, as England lost three World Cup games in a row for the first time.

Scores in brief

South Africa beat England at Bay Oval, Tauranga by three wickets
England 235/9 in 50.0 overs (Tammy Beaumont 62, Amy Jones 53; Marizanne Kapp 5/45; Masabata Klaas 2/23)
South Africa 236/7 in 49.2 overs (Laura Wolvaardt 77, Sune Luus 36; Anya Shrubsole 2-34).
Player of the Match: Marizanne Kapp (South Africa)

Stats to know

  • Match 30, the second semi-final of this year’s tournament will be played between South Africa and England in a repeat of semi-final in the 2017 edition.
  • It will be their eighth head-to-head ICC Women’s World Cup match; England have the historical edge winning five of those seven contests.
  • However, South Africa came on top in their last meeting in the group stage match on the 14th of March, winning by three wickets.
  • These two nations have also played 32 ODIs between them, excluding the World Cups. England have the upper hand, winning 24 of those matches, compared to South Africa’s seven (one No Result).
  • South Africa enter this game in serious form, finishing second on the points ladder with five wins (Lost - 1; NR - 1). Since the beginning of 2020, South Africa have lost only four of their 27 matches (2 Super Over losses, 2 NR and 21 wins); second best win percentages after Australia.
  • Meanwhile, England has advanced to this stage of the tournament by winning four consecutive games after initially suffering with three successive defeats. If England win here, it will be the eighth time in ICC Women’s World Cup history that they have finished in the top two spots; the second most by any nation, only one behind Australia (9).

Key players

• Lizelle Lee will be vital in South Africa’s batting line up. Lee is the highest run-scorer for South Africa against England in ODIs. She has scored a total of 454 runs in her nine innings against this opposition at an exceptional average of 56.75, including four 50s and a hundred. She has been struggling for runs in the tournament but has shown decent touch in recent matches despite not capitalising. If she can join the red-hot, new world No 1 Laura Wolvaardt in providing South Africa a strong batting performance, their bowlers have the form and class to do the rest.

• Sophie Ecclestone has been the best bowler in this tournament so far, leading the bowler’s chart with 14 wickets, including four 3-wicket hauls. The world No 1 bowler now is also the highest wicket-taker in Women’s One Day Internationals since the completion of last World Cup. She has bagged 66 wickets at an average of 21.9 and economy of 3.6

Quotes corner

Heather Knight, England captain

On the turnaround after losing three matches

I think it was about not panicking too much to be honest. And keeping it pretty simple and focusing purely on what we can do to try and win the next game which obviously we did against India. I think there’s been a lot of jokes flying around the group about people have - that somehow changed our luck, I think our Media Manager’s toenail fell off so they were claiming that was a turnaround in luck and someone was wearing different shoes. So it’s quite funny that sometimes the superstitions you get in the group around that. But no, it was purely just being quite honest, trying to change the things that like I said that were in our control that we weren’t doing as well as we could have and just finding that winning habit again. Just keeping things pretty honest and trying to get individuals in a place to try and perform in the next game.

Amy Jones in one of the previous press conferences had said about how close the group is in terms of having each other’s back, Has that played a significant role? 

I think it’s really important. I think, when you’re in a place where you’ve lost the first three games and you’re frustrated and things aren’t going the way that you want them to, I think having the support of your mates around is very important. I think that’s something we’ve pride ourselves on a great thing we do very well and making sure we’re looking after individuals and making sure they’re in the best place to perform. So yeah, it was certainly helpful and it means hopefully that we can be quite honest with each other as well and decided as a group what we’ve done wrong and what we’re trying to do about it. So yeah, it’s been really nice to have that support. I guess. It’s been a long tour for us as well. So having quite a tight-knit group is been really key in our turning it around and having the success we’ve had in the last four games.

On momentum

We’ve been playing knockout cricket for the last four games. So we’re so used to obviously having that pressure on us and if we make one mistake we’re out and that’s perfect preparation for World Cup semi-final where you know the stakes and you know what’s on the line and I think it shows a lot about the character in this group after those first three games.  

We’ve obviously lost three close games and we were very disappointed and frustrated but the way we’ve turned it around, I think has been outstanding. The way we’ve managed to stay pretty positive, change a few things that were in our control.  

We’re very good players and I think we’ve just managed to find a way to win again, which has been very nice. Hopefully, it will give us a lot of confidence going into that semi-final, we feel like we’ve built a bit of momentum up in the last four games. And that’s a nice place to be again into the semis.

Sune Luus, South Africa captain

On Shabnim Ismail

Shabnim is obviously a big part of our team. She’s one of the most experienced bowlers and players in our team and, and one of the best bowlers in the world. And I think to have her on our side with experience as well as the skill, I think it gives us a huge advantage as a team. That attitude is always so positive. She always wants to bowl, She always wants to make a difference when she’s bowling and I think, her comeback just shows the type of character she is.

On the match against England in the group stage and looking back at the 2017 semifinal

that was an extremely good game for us. I felt like England played well, as well. So I don’t think tomorrow is going to be any different. They’re obviously going to bring their A game and we just need to be extremely clinical tomorrow. Yeah, I think they’ve obviously had experience of playing in semifinals and playing against us in the semifinals as well. I think tomorrow will just be who is at their best for longer periods of time and who can stay focus for longer.

We haven’t brought [2017 semifinal] up. I think that’s five years ago. I think teams have changed, players have grown a lot since that semi-final. And we’ve - I think we’ve become a way better team in the last five years. So that’s definitely in the past and we look to tomorrow as a whole new game and a whole new world cup. So we just take it as it going to come.

On the sense of occasion

We have an opportunity to make South Africa really proud and to make history. I think that is the biggest thing for me as captain. It’s a big honour, it’s something I never really thought of doing, especially so soon in my career. Tomorrow is going to be a big game. There will probably be a couple of tears before the game. It’s an opportunity to make history in South Africa and change a lot of lives back home as well and for us as players. I’m very excited with some butterflies as well but that’s something we’ll manage when the time comes.

With inputs from ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 and Sportradar. All statistics mentioned for women’s One Day Internationals unless otherwise stated.