Lancashire’s Sophie Ecclestone powered England Women into the World Cup Final, taking six wickets in a demolition of South Africa.
This will be England’s sixth World Cup Final, as they aim to defend their title and claim their fifth World Cup against Australia on Sunday.
South Africa won the toss and opted to bowl first.
Tammy Beaumont fell early for seven, as England reached 11-1 after the first four overs.
Heather Knight lost her wicket at 52-2 on review, but South Africa missed chances early on, dropping Dani Wyatt twice.
Wyatt would punish South Africa, as others fell around her at the other end.
Contributions from Nat Sciver (15) and Amy Jones (28) took the score to 150-4 after 30 overs.
It was Wyatt, though, who piled on the runs for England, reaching 100 off 98 deliveries. South Africa’s fielding woes continued, with Wyatt dropped twice in the 41st over.
South Africa finally took the key wicket of Wyatt after 44 overs, after dropping her a total of five times.
Sophia Dunkley ably supported Wyatt, with their partnership reaching 118 over 19 overs.
She reached her half century off 62 balls. Katherine Brunt fell for nine, before Dunkley got out for 60.
Ecclestone added a useful 24 off 11 balls late on, as England reached a very competitive 293 for the loss of eight wickets.
South Africa would be required to carry out a record run chase to reach the final, and they got off to the worst possible start.
Laura Wolvaardt was out for a duck in the 2nd over, with her opening partner Lizelle Lee caught out two overs later.
Lara Goodall and Sune Luus set about rebuilding, adding some vital runs, but England were in control.
Luus got out in the 11th over, and Goodall falling seven overs later.
Ecclestone first came on to bowl in the 24th over, and quickly made an impact.
Wickets in her second, third and fourth overs put South Africa in deep trouble, needing 184 from the final 20 overs, with three wickets remaining.
Ecclestone continued to rip through the South African lower order, claiming the wicket of Shabnim Ismail for 12.
She wrapped up a convincing performance for England, taking the final two wickets in five balls, sending England emphatically through to their second consecutive World Cup final, and their sixth in total.
She ended with figures of six wickets for 36 runs, off eight overs.
This completed a remarkable turnaround for the England side, after they lost their first three games and were on the brink of crashing out of the tournament as reigning champions.
However, five wins in a row have reversed their fortunes, and they will now look forward to facing Australia in Christchurch.
Australia will hope to reclaim the Cup, having last won it in 2013.
They are six-time winners and will represent a tough challenge for England.
They are unbeaten in the tournament so far.
This includes defeating England by 12 runs in the opening fixture for both sides.
Australia will be unlikely to be as poor in the field as South Africa, and the World Number one side is full of superstars, including Alyssa Healy and captain Meg Lanning.
They look unmatched in this tournament for their strength and depth, so they will be firm favourites for Sunday’s final.
(Feature Image Credit to Bahnfrend under Creative Commons)