Captain Meg Lanning’s aggressive half-century helped defending champions Australia enter their fourth consecutive Women’s World Twenty20 final on Wednesday after beating traditional rivals England by five runs in the first semi-final.
Put in to bat on a hot sunny afternoon in New Delhi, Australia posted a competitive 132 for six after Lanning’s 50-ball 55 before their bowlers then restricted England to 127 for seven.
Openers Alyssa Healy and Elyse Villani laid a decent platform for Lanning to build on as England bowlers found it hard to contain the steady flow of boundaries.
Healy (25) and Villani (19) played useful cameos but their departure slowed the Aussie charge at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium.
Lanning then took control, starting off cautiously and then changing gear to give the England bowlers a hard time.
Lanning, who led Australia to World T20 glory in 2014, registered her eighth T20 fifty as she hit six boundaries.
England tried to claw their way back into the game with some sharp fielding, including two run-outs from direct hits in the outfield.
Natalie Sciver had Alex Blackwell trudging back to the dugout after hitting the stumps from deep midwicket, while another direct hit from long-on saw the back of Lanning.
England’s reply got off to a healthy start as skipper Charlotte Edwards and Tammy Beaumont put on a 67-run opening stand.
Australia however kept their cool, and made the breakthrough when leg-spinner Kristen Beams took the prized wicket of Edwards (31).
Beaumont (32) hung around for a while before falling to medium-pacer Megan Schutt in the 14th overs as the wheels started to come off the England chase.
Wicktkeeper-batswoman Sarah Taylor did try to inject life into the chase but her departure for 21 was a major blow to England’s chances of repeating their 2009 title-winning prformance.
Down the order, Katherine Brunt did hit a boundary and a six to raise some hopes but Schutt got her cleaned up to shut the doors on England.
Australia will meet the winner of the second semi-final between West Indies and New Zealand in the title showdown in Kolkata on Sunday.