Women's World Cup: England set to face South Africa in semi-final

By Stephan ShemiltChief cricket writer in Wellington
ICC Women's World Cup semi-final: South Africa v England
Date: 31 March Time: 02:00 BST Venue: Christchurch
Coverage: Live ball-by-ball commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Live text commentary with in-play clips (UK only) on the BBC Sport website.

England will look to book a Women's World Cup final meeting with Australia when they play South Africa in the second semi-final on Thursday.

England take on the Proteas in a repeat of the 2017 semi-final, which they won on the way to lifting the trophy.

Heather Knight's side lost their first three games, but have reached the last four with four successive wins.

"We're very good players and I think we've just managed to find a way to win again," said Knight.

"If you gave us this position a couple of weeks ago we would have absolutely bitten your hand off.

"We feel like we've built a bit of momentum up in the last four games. That's a nice place to be going into the semis."

South Africa are second in the world rankings, one place ahead of England.

Although England comfortably won a World Cup warm-up game, the Proteas' victory in the tournament proper pushed the defending champions to the brink of elimination.

"It's nice to come full circle and play South Africa," said batter Knight, 31.

"The way we felt after that game against South Africa, the girls were pretty down and I guess we've managed to turn it around very quickly, which has been outstanding.

"There was some pretty down people in the dressing room after that but the way we've managed to stay positive has been great."

Thursday's meeting in Christchurch (02:00 BST) will give South Africa the chance to avenge their defeat at the same stage five years ago, when England won a thrilling game by two wickets with two balls to spare.

"That's definitely in the past and we look at it as a whole new game and a whole new World Cup," said South Africa captain Sune Luus.

"We've become a way better team in the last five years."

World Cup semi-final - the key names to watch out for

Laura Wolvaardt - The South Africa opener is the World Cup's leading run-scorer, possessing one of the most graceful cover drives in the game. England need to find a way to stop Wolvaardt giving the Proteas a strong start.

Sophie Ecclestone - The world's best bowler and the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, Ecclestone nearly bowled England to victory over South Africa in the group stage.

Marizanne Kapp - The all-rounder took 5-45 and made vital runs in South Africa's group-stage win over England. Fiery and passionate, England will need to minimise her impact with bat and ball.

Tammy Beaumont - The opener leading run-scorer and player of the tournament in 2017, but England have struggled for big first-wicket partnerships in this World Cup. Can Beaumont counter the talented South Africa pace attack?

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