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The final day of first round matches on Monday in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2012 saw England finishing on top of Group A after defeating Australia by seven wickets. Also on Monday, Pakistan registered its first win in the ICC Women's World Twenty20, beating India by one run in its final group game at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.
An unbeaten England will face New Zealand in the first semi-final on Thursday 4 October, while Australia will face West Indies in the second semi-final on Friday 5 October at R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
India will play Sri Lanka at the NCC in Colombo, while South Africa plays Pakistan in the play-off on Wednesday 3 October for a place in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2014.
The talking point of the day was the thrilling match between India and Pakistan in the morning which saw the traditional rivals put on a show that kept the crowd guessing until the last ball.
After being asked to bowl, India was disciplined as it restricted Pakistan to 98 for nine. Pakistan captain Sana Mir top-scored with 26, but was sent back by debutant Roshanara Parwin in the 10th over. Nain Abidi came in at number three and struck two fours on her way to 25, while Asmavia Khokhar also contributed with the bat, scoring 10. Marina Iqbal was on 9 when the team reached 98 for nine in its 20 overs.
Chasing 99, India ended on 97 for eight from its 20 overs. India appeared to be cruising at 44 for one in the tenth over, when it suddenly lost three wickets in two overs. The turnaround was scripted by off-spinner Nida Rashid, who dismissed Poonam Raut (18), Mithali Raj (16) and Harmanpreet Kaur (5), before Reema Malhotra was bowled by Mir for just 7.
Jhulan Goswami kept the runs ticking over, but Bisma Maroof dismissed both Goswami (21) and Amita Sharma (7) in the same over to leave India with 14 to get off the final over. India managed only 12 as Pakistan squeezed home by the narrowest of margins.
Rashid was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers with figures of three for 12 in four overs.
Pakistan captain Sana Mir credited her bowlers for defending a low total on a good batting pitch. "One of the reasons we batted was because the bowlers have been doing well and we've defended modest targets," she said.
Mir felt her team's win would boost the image of women's cricket in the country. "It is extremely satisfying that we've finally managed to break the jinx and beat India at an ICC event. This is our first ever win in the ICC World Twenty20. It is a delightful feeling, and I believe this win is one of the highpoints in our careers. It will be a good advertisement for the sport back in Pakistan."
Player of the match Nida Rashid said it was a dream come true to perform on the big stage. "I've been working really hard. I wanted to do really well, especially against India. All the bowlers supported me well," she said. "I wanted to become the woman of the match, and I think this is my best performance to date."
Mithali Raj, the India captain, was unhappy with the batting collapse that saw India crumble against spin. "I don't know what to say really. I do realise how important my wicket was, but with that comes a lot of pressure on me."
The one-run loss means India enters the play-offs without a win under its belt. "I think this is a turning point in women's cricket in India. We have a lot of things to rectify if we're to scale high again," said Raj. "We can't sulk. We've to build towards the 50-over World Cup next year. Most importantly, a lot of our players need to become mentally tough. Just having skills won't suffice at the international level."
In the following match, Australia and England proved why their rivalry is the biggest in the women's game. Both teams showed how high the standards are at the top of the women's game in a match that made for compelling viewing. At the end of it, it was England that walked away worthy winners by seven wickets.
After opting to bat, Australia powered its way to 144 for five in 20 overs, with most of the batters chipping in with useful contributions. Meg Lanning set the tone at the top of the innings with 39, but it was the fourth-wicket partnership of 55 between Lisa Sthalekar and Alex Blackwell, who made 28, that gave Australia the impetus towards the latter half of its innings. Sthalekar's 38 came off just 28 balls, with four boundaries.
Anya Shrubsole picked up two wickets for England.
The England innings was anchored by Sarah Taylor, who made an unbeaten 65 off just 53 balls to lead England's pursuit of 145. Her ninth Twenty20 International half-century was studded with eight fours, and it helped England reach its target in 18.1 overs. Danielle Wyatt added to the run chase with an aggressive 17-ball 33. All the Australia bowlers were expensive, with Ellyse Perry, Julie Hunter and Jess Jonassen picking up one wicket apiece.
Player of the match Taylor wasn't entirely happy with her performance, saying: "I struggled a bit at the start, my worst start probably. Charlotte asked me to just stay in there and focus on partnerships. Wyatt took the pressure off me with some clean hitting, and she made my job a lot easier. Nice to get over the line though."
Captain Edwards was ecstatic with her team's performance. "(It's) really pleasing to be going into the knockouts with three wins. Our goal coming in here was to win five straight games to win the cup, two more to go and we're all looking forward to it."
Australia captain Jodie Fields felt it was the quality of the England batters that made the difference in the end. "I thought we were right in the game till the end. Batting was pretty much how we wanted it to go," said Fields. "We must give credit where it's due. I thought Sarah and Wyatt were outstanding, they were undoubtedly the better side."
Fields said Australia have plans firmly in place for its opponents. "The positive for us is everyone is in form. West Indies is a very good team, we played against them in the warm-up, so we have an idea of what to expect and we have plans to counter them," said Fields.
While the four semi-finalists have confirmed their places in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 Bangladesh 2014, the winners of the two play-offs will also go through to the next edition of the ICC World Twenty20. Bangladesh, being the host nation, will be the seventh side in the tournament and the final berth will go to the winner of the eight-team ICC Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier to be staged next year.
Scores in Brief
At GICS, Pakistan defeated India by 1 run
Pakistan 98 for 9, 20 overs (Sana Mir 26, Nain Abidi 25; Roshnara Parwin 2-15)
India 97 for 8, 20 overs (Jhulan Goswami 21, Poonam Raut 18; Nida Rashid 12-3)
Player of the Match â€“ Nida Rashid
At GICS, England defeated Australia by seven wickets with 11 balls remaining
Australia 144 for 5, 20 overs (Meg Lanning 39, Lisa Sthalekar 38, Alex Blackwell 28; Anya Shrubsole 32-2)
England 146 for 3, 20 overs (Sarah Taylor 65, Danielle Wyatt 33 not out; Julie Hunter 17-1)
Player of the Match â€“ Sarah Taylor
- 02/10/2012 19:02 - India crash out despite thrilling 1 run victory over South Africa; Pakistan through to the semis
- 02/10/2012 14:26 - Pakistan spin Australia into a web to give themselves a good shot at semi spot
- 02/10/2012 08:18 - Narine's magic spell leaves NZ spellbound; takes Windies to semi-finals