About the Match
After an exciting round of group matches, the ICC Women’s World Cup has finally arrived at the knockout stages. The first semi-final will see the home team and one of the pre-tournament favorites, England take on an impressive South African team. Will England continue their march to the finals or can South Africa pull off an upset?
After losing the opening match against India, England would have had some butterflies in its stomach as it faced some of the other teams but six wins on the trot have put all that to rest. England has trounced all the other opponents, including South Africa, the team they will be facing in this semi-final.
Batting has been the big strength for this England team that has 3 players who have scored more than 300 runs in this tournament. Tammy Beaumont leads the tournament scoring list with 372 runs to her name, while Heather Knight (333) and Natalie Sciver (315) have been exceptional as well.
There is also Sarah Taylor with 297 runs to her name and another integral part of this formidable batting line-up.
All of these players will need to be at their best against a South African team that has some fantastic bowlers in its rank, all of whom will come out hard against England.
The bowling for the English team has been led by skipper Heather Knight and Alex Hartley. Other like Sciver, Shrubsole and Laura Marsh have also done well so far but there is a definite lack of penetration in the initial few overs.
England is facing an in-form opponent against whom it has lost in recent times. This match is not going to be a walkover by a long shot.
The Proteas got to this stage in the tournament on the back of some dominating performances against the lesser fancied teams but a closer look at their result definitely throws up some doubts. South Africa lost to England and Australia quite emphatically while rain meant that their match against New Zealand had to be abandoned.
This means that South Africa was unable to win a single match against the pre-tournament favorites.
There is no doubt about the bowling prowess of this South African side but their batting definitely seems to be very shaky. Compared to England that has almost 4 players in touching distance of 300 runs, South Africa’s top scorer is Lizelle Lee with 262 runs to her name. in fact, Laura Wolvaardt is the only other batter with over 200 runs to her name in the entire squad.
Senior players like Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk have struggled with the bat so far. South Africa needs them to stand up and be counted in the semi-final.
Both of those players have however been nothing short of brilliant in the bowling department. Niekerk with 15 wickets to her name and Kapp with 12 are the top-2 wicket takers in this tournament and will pose the biggest threat to the strong English batting lineup.
Also a part of the bowling attack will be Shabnim Ismail, the fastest bowler in the world, and Sune Luus who took 5 wickets in the last match against Australia.
South Africa will know that it is their bowling that has to win them the game because their batsmen may find chasing even a par score difficult.
Pitch and Conditions
The weather forecast for Bristol is for a gloomy, overcast and gray day with around 20% chance of showers. So, a typical English day then! The pitch is going to be of great interest because England played their last match at this venue and saw the ball turn square.
Niekerk and company might not mind that at all.
We think that England is the far superior side in this contest and backing them to win is the smart play. If, however, South Africa put up a good batting display first up or the ball starts to really spin, then we recommend hedging your bets in a hurry