England is on track to reaching semi-finals after defeating Pakistan


Following a nine-wicket thrashing of Pakistan in Christchurch, England is one win away from reaching the Women's World Cup semi-finals.

Heather Knight's squad will qualify for the last four if they beat Bangladesh in their final group game this weekend, capping off a three-game losing streak for the defending champions.

England's chances of reaching the knockout phase were hanging by a thread after losses to Australia, the West Indies, and South Africa. However, they have since rallied to beat India, New Zealand, and Pakistan, with their most recent victory moving them up to fourth in the standings, ahead of India on net run rate.

At Hagley Oval, Pakistan were bowled out for 105 in 41.3 overs, with seamer Katherine Brunt (3-17) making her first major impact of the tournament, and spinner Sophie Ecclestone (3-18) taking three wickets.

Danni Wyatt then retaliated against Pakistan for dropping her on four by scoring a blistering 76 not out off 68 balls. Meanwhile, with 184 balls to spare, England accomplished their goal, with Wyatt and skipper Knight sharing an unbroken second-wicket stand of 87 from 89 deliveries (24no off 36).

Following the earlier washout between South Africa and the West Indies on Thursday, the Proteas have joined Australia in securing a semi-final position, with the final two slots now being decided between England, the West Indies, and India, with New Zealand having a tiny chance.

Before facing Pakistan, England knew that two victories in their final two matches would suffice, and they got off to a flying start in Christchurch when Brunt struck with the opening ball of the encounter.

Brunt had only taken one wicket in her previous five matches, but she made an early impact on a green Hagley Oval field. On the other hand, at first slip, Nahida Khan (0) edged an outswinger to England captain Knight.

Pakistan, who have now defeated all 11 of their One-Day Internationals against England, subsequently lost two more wickets to fall to 33-3, and the innings never recovered. Brunt pinned Nida Dar (5) lbw and then bowled Sidra Amin with a ball that appeared to be in, leaving them at 55-5.

Ecclestone, the competition's highest wicket-taker with 11 in six matches, achieved three of the final four wickets.

In the run chase, England had a few nervous moments. Dar grounded a difficult attempt at the gully when Wyatt was on single figures and Tammy Beaumont being pinned lbw for two by the outstanding Baig in the fifth over with the score at 20.

However, Wyatt went on to hit 11 fours in 51 deliveries, including the game-winning boundary off Fatima Sana Khan, to complete her third ODI fifty and first in World Cup cricket.

Match Player of the Year Wyatt easily surpassed her previous best score of the tournament, a 33 against the West Indies, and England now appears to be a lot more formidable team with her and Brunt back in form.

They will be strong contenders to beat Bangladesh and advance to the final four, with their dreams of defending the crown they won in spectacular fashion at Lord's in the summer of 2017 still alive.