England were clinical as they defeated South Africa by 137 runs to advance to the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 final and keep their title defence alive.
Danni Wyatt’s maiden World Cup century saw England post an imposing 293 for eight as Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley put on 116 for the fifth wicket.
In response, South Africa were rocked as Laura Wolvaardt and Lizelle Lee fell early before Sophie Ecclestone continued her red-hot form to take six for 36 to bowl South Africa out for 156.
Tammy Beaumont started with attacking intent taking a four off the first ball from Shabnim Ismail but was caught behind by Trisha Chetty from the bowling of Marizanne Kapp to leave England on 10 for one. Heather Knight strode to the crease but never found her rhythm before she departed for one from 19 deliveries.
England then took advantage of the spin from Chloe Tryon as Wyatt led the run-scoring but partner Nat Sciver fell as Ismail got her first wicket, the right-hander unable to direct a bouncer into a gap with Kapp holding the catch having earlier dropped Wyatt off a similar shot.
Tryon then took a screamer to dismiss Amy Jones and end a promising 49-run partnership, Jones going for a big heave into the on-side to leave England in a precarious position at 126 for four.
Dunkley joined Wyatt in the middle, with the opener well on the way to her century, but she survived being dropped a third time, in this instance while on 77 as Lara Goodall let the ball sail straight through her hands for four.
Wyatt took full advantage as she brought up her hundred, her first at a World Cup, from 98 balls with 10 fours, before being dropped again on 116 as Ayabonga Khaka’s poor day continued.
South Africa finally held on to a chance as Wyatt departed for 129 from 125 balls, Lee holding onto a catch and making amends for an earlier drop as Masabata Klaas earned a deserved wicket.
Dunkley reached her fifty not long after, coming up off 62 balls, as she earned back-to-back half-centuries, to move England to 250 for five.
Katherine Brunt had been given license to hit with less than five overs remaining but was bamboozled by a slower ball from Klaas to bowl her for nine.
Ecclestone and Dunkley clawed back any momentum South Africa had built with that wicket before Dunkley departed for 60 caught going for a big drive to mid-off.
Ecclestone was unfazed sending Ismail for three boundaries in the final over before the fast bowler had the final say bowling the spinner for 24 as England ended on a mammoth 293 for eight.
Anya Shrubsole had batted England to victory in the 2017 semi-final against the Proteas, but here she delivered with the ball, bowling the tournament’s top scorer Wolvaardt for a second-ball duck.
Lee followed in Shrubsole’s next over, as Sciver held on to a catch at midwicket to reduce South Africa to eight for two.
Kate Cross was the second bowler to get a wicket in her first over as she bowled captain Sune Luus for 21 before Charlie Dean got in on the act to dismiss Goodall for 29 and put South Africa in all kinds of trouble on 67 for four.
Dean had earlier dropped Goodall and then dropped the dangerous Kapp but her spin twin Ecclestone came to her rescue removing Kapp with a turning delivery.
England were so relaxed they could share a laugh in the field at a poor review for LBW on Tryon but the steely determination returned as she was sent on her way the very next ball by Ecclestone to see the Proteas slump to 101 for six.
Mignon du Preez became Ecclestone’s third victim, and 17th of the tournament, missing the ball going for a paddle and seeing her bails fly off.
Dean held on to a catch to dismiss Ismail as Ecclestone kept piling on the pressure to leave South Africa on the brink of 148 for eight.
Ecclestone then completed her maiden international five-wicket haul as Klaas was caught by Beaumont for three before finishing it off by removing Chetty to finish with the best figures of this World Cup to bowl South Africa out for 156 and set up a final with Australia on Sunday.
Scores in brief
England beat South Africa at Hagley Oval, Christchurch by 137 runs
England 293/8 in 50 overs (Danni Wyatt 129, Sophia Dunkley 60; Shabnim Ismail 3/46)
South Africa 156 all out in 38 overs (Mignon du Preez 30, Lara Goodall 29; Sophie Ecclestone 6/36, Anya Shrubsole 2/27)
Player of the Match: Danni Wyatt (England)
With thanks to the ICC