India have become the first-ever ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup finalist, after a dominant, eight-wicket victory over New Zealand in the first semi-final at the JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom.

Shweta Sehrawat’s stunning, and unbeaten 61 from just 45 balls, propelled India to victory with 34 balls to spare, after they had restricted New Zealand to 107 for nine. Sehrawat helped herself to ten boundaries, adding 33 for the first wicket with captain Shafali Verma (10) and 62 for the second wicket with Soumya Tiwari (22 off 26 balls).

Earlier, India had served up one of their finest displays in the field, catching smartly and bowling wicket to wicket. Sensing that the pitch was playing slower, they also dragged their lengths back somewhat, forcing the Kiwis to play more cross-bat shots.

The result was several of the New Zealand starlets being caught at mid-wicket, or behind square on the leg-side. The dangerous Georgia Plimmer (35 off 32 balls) was caught at deep-square, just as she looked to be dragging her side back into the game.

The real damage was done right upfront by India, though. Anna Browning was beautifully nudged out by Mannat Kashyap, who got one to dip and turn. The edge was snapped up by Tiwari at slip.

New Zealand’s other opener, Emma McLeod, was then trapped in front by Titas Sadhu, as she tried to force the pace. Izzy Gaze (26 from 22 balls) did the repair work with Plimmer, but they kept losing wickets at the wrong time.

Parshavi Chopra continued her excellent tournament, snapping up three for 20.

India, sensing that the match was in their control, were also razor-sharp to any opportunity. Paige Loggenberg’s dismissal was a prime example. Hrishita Basu initially dropped the catch that was offered by Natasha Codyre but reacted quickly to the attempted single.

She picked up the stary ball, and threw down the stumps at the striker’s end, with Loggenberg well short. It was that sort of street smarts that saw New Zealand strangled to just 107 for nine. a

Against a confident Indian top-order, that was never going to be enough.

India will now wait to see who will emerge as their opponents in Sunday’s final, as Australia and England square off in the second semi-final. After losing to Australia in the Super Six stage, Verma’s charges have bounced back emphatically, and will fancy their chances at being the first side to lift the ICC Under-19 Women’s T20 World Cup.

England clinch thriller against Australia to book final spot

England held their nerve to beat Australia by just three runs and book their place in the final at JB Marks Oval in Potchefstroom.

With their powerful batting line-up having faltered in posting 99 all out and leaving Australia exactly 100 runs at under a run a ball to win, an intense effort in the field and with the ball somehow defended that modest target.

Player of the match Hannah Baker led the charge, the leg-spinner’s beguiling spell netting her figures of 3/10 off four overs, with skipper Grace Scrivens supporting her with figures of 2/8 off 3.4 overs and getting the last wicket to fall by trapping Maggie Clark in front for a duck.

The low run rate in the chase and Amy Smith’s run-a-ball 26 (three fours) kept Australia in the game, but once Smith holed out to long-off off Josie Groves’ bowling with the score on 77, England had all but set a date with India in Sunday’s final.

Just as they had done throughout the tournament, England chose to bat after winning the toss to hopefully put a big total on the board and let scoreboard pressure do its thing, but the Australian bowling attack had different ideas about allowing them to set a challenging target.

Having gone unchallenged by the bowling attacks from previous matches all tournament, England found the Aussies tough to handle, with Sianna Ginger (3/13), Maggie Clark (3/15) and Ella Hayward (3/25) making relatively light work of one of the more explosive batting line-ups around.

Having scored the most runs in the tournament (269 from five matches) before the semi-final encounter, Scrivens posted a run-a-ball 20 before being the sixth wicket out.

For the brief period she was in, middle-order batter Seren Smale looked like she was batting on a different surface, but an unlucky LBW decision went against her for a 10-ball 10 (two fours), leaving lower order batters Alexa Stonehouse and Josie Groves to pick up the pieces.

The two compiled a gutsy eighth-wicket partnership of 46 from 46 balls, Stonehouse top-scoring with 25 off 33 (two fours) and Groves chipping in with 15. That partnership was the main reason England got to 99 all out, which also told them they were in the game as the biggest total scored against them in the tournament was 103 by Pakistan.

Australia losing their first two wickets for just four runs meant a cliffhanger was on the cards, with England the eventual winners in a finish that will be remembered for a long time to come.