England moved into the Women’s World Twenty20 semi-finals with an easy 68-run victory over Pakistan in Chennai.
After an opening stand of 68 with Tammy Beaumont (37), captain Charlotte Edwards batted through the innings for 77 from 61 balls in England’s 148-5.
West Indies’ earlier win over India had meant group leaders England would have risked elimination on net run-rate had Pakistan won in 18.1 overs or less.
But Pakistan were bowled out for just 80, with 13 balls to spare.
Nida Dar resisted for 16 from 22 balls in mid-innings but an upset never looked likely.
England will face Group A runners-up Australia in Wednesday’s first semi-final in Delhi, while West Indies take on unbeaten New Zealand in Mumbai the following day.
Recalled Marsh spins England to victory
England’s bowling heroine was off-spinner Laura Marsh, who had only arrived in India on Wednesday as an injury replacement for Danielle Hazell, and was preferred to slow left-armer Rebecca Grundy as one of two team changes.
After Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole struck with the new ball, Marsh put the brakes on and collected T20 career-best figures of 3-12 from four overs on her first full international appearance since August.
The other change was enforced as illness ruled out vice-captain Heather Knight, handing an opportunity to all-rounder Georgia Elwiss, who also picked up two wickets.
England improving at the right time?
England had begun the tournament with a 36-run victory over Bangladesh, with a performance coach Mark Robinson described as “six out of 10”.
They then edged to a nervous two-wicket win over India in Dharamsala, and needed a scrambled bye to the wicketkeeper off the final ball of the match to overhaul a modest West Indies score – so it is safe to say, Robinson will be able to reflect on their most complete performance of the tournament.
Beaumont, preferred to Amy Jones as Edwards’ opening partner since the start of the tournament, repaid Robinson’s faith, serving notice of her intentions by smashing spinner Anam Amin for four boundaries in the third over of the day on the way to her highest T20 score.
That early impetus allowed the experienced Edwards to shepherd her side calmly through to a total which always looked beyond Pakistan.
What they said
England captain Charlotte Edwards told ecb.co.uk: “It was important we put on a really good performance, knowing we had to win the game, and it was our best performance of the World Cup so far. We were pretty clinical with bat and ball.
“Tammy was exceptional up front, which takes a bit of pressure off me in the powerplay. This was a better wicket than Dharamsala.
“It’s fantastic to see players take their opportunity, and Laura really did that today, backed up by Katherine Brunt who took some outstanding catches.
“To have two England semi-finals in Delhi on Wednesday will be fantastic, hopefully we can get two wins.”
What’s next? Beware the Aussies
An old enemy lurks on the Delhi horizon on Wednesday and stands in England’s way of reaching their fourth final in five editions of the Women’s World T20.
Australia, current holders of the Women’s Ashes, have been England’s nemesis in the last three tournaments – beating them in the 2014 and 2012 finals, and edging them out at the group stage in 2010.
The Southern Stars have had a mixed time in India – beating South Africa, outclassing Ireland but being thrashed by New Zealand.
In Meg Lanning, Alex Blackwell and Ellyse Perry, they have three of the elite players of world cricket – while they, and England’s top players, will know each other’s games well after this winter’s Women’s Big Bash in Australia.