Knight, Luus locked in ahead of second CWC22 semi-final

The two teams may have travelled on contrasting World Cup journeys, but South Africa and England's paths converge in a quest to meet Australia in the tournament final on April 3.

South Africa, battle-hardened by tight final-over thrillers and leading the pack chasing Meg Lanning's frontrunners, are faced by an English side who seemingly play better when everything is on the line.

Video CWC22 14 Mar 22
M13 Innings Highlights: South Africa v England

Beaten by three wickets and with four balls remaining at the Bay Oval, the defeat to South Africa for Heather Knight's side was the fork in the road.

Nought from three to start the tournament, England were staring down the barrel of an early elimination, though the team regrouped in emphatic fashion, accounting for India at the same ground.

Knight praised the resilience of the group, and the collective effort of the four successive wins to qualify for the final four. 

“We've obviously lost three close games and we were very disappointed and frustrated but the way we've turned it around, I think has been outstanding, the way we've managed to stay pretty positive, change a few things that were in our control," Knight said in the lead-up to the second semi-final.

“We’re very good players and I think we've just managed to find a way to win again, which has been very nice. Hopefully, it will give us a lot of confidence going into that semi-final, we feel like we've built a bit of momentum up in the last four games. And that's a nice place to be again into the semis.”

Primed by the backs-to-the-wall nature of their campaign, Knight feels the stresses of the campaign bode well for her side, as they look to match their 2017 tournament victory.

“We've been playing knockout cricket for the last four games.

“We're so used to obviously having that pressure on us and if we make one mistake we're out and that's perfect preparation for a World Cup semi-final where you know the stakes and you know what's on the line, and I think it shows a lot about the character in this group after those first three games. 

The two teams met at the same stage in 2017, with Anya Shrubsole famously slashing Shabnim Ismail through point in the final over to book their final tickets.

In the eyes of South Africa's Sune Luus, the heart-breaking defeat bears no significance, with the captain instead focusing on the strides her side have made since.

"We haven’t brought up 2017. It’s five years ago, teams have changed, players have grown a lot since that semi-final.

"I think we’ve become a way better team since that semi-final so that’s definitely in the past and we look to tomorrow as a whole new game in a whole new World Cup.”

While no stranger to leading her side previously, Luus picked up the captaincy reins in a late pre-tournament shuffle, following an injury to full-time skipper Dane van Niekerk. Assertive in pressure situations and contributing with bat and ball, Luus admits nerves must be channelled.

“It’s an opportunity to make history in South Africa and change a lot of lives back home as well and for us as players. I’m very excited with some butterflies as well but that’s something we’ll manage when the time comes. 

“It’s a big honour, it’s something I never really thought of doing, especially so soon in my career. Tomorrow is going to be a big game. There will probably be a couple of tears before the game.  

"We have an opportunity to make South Africa really proud and to make history. I think that is the biggest thing for me as captain."


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