Taylor outpaces the Aussies

Australia 163-5 England 165-2

They have already paraded the 50-over cup around Lord's this month. Now England's women are favourites to win the World Twenty20 trophy in front of a big crowd at the home of cricket tomorrow after putting together a perfect run-chase against old rivals Australia yesterday.

Charlotte Edwards and her team were invited to show off their silverware halfway through the opening men's match between England and the Netherlands. This time, though, they will be on centre stage for three hours, having earned the right to meet New Zealand in the final by surging past a daunting Aussie total of 163 for 5 with eight wickets and three balls to spare. Wisden Cricketer of the Year Claire Taylor and Beth Morgan took just 79 deliveries to break green and gold hearts with an unbroken stand of 122.

Many people may like to see this result as a good omen going into a summer of Ashes battles. But all that mattered at The Oval yesterday was the outcome as England ended a run of three consecutive defeats by Australia – and, for good measure, produced a level of performance, at least with the bat, that was an excellent advertisement for women's cricket.

"I'm really chuffed," said Edwards, who helped to her team's reply off to a decent start before departing and leaving the way clear for Taylor and Morgan. "The pressure was on us but we've produced the goods and now we are looking forward to Lord's. And hopefully we can have another trophy to show for our efforts."

Despite winning the 50-over World Cup in Sydney three months ago, England lost to Australia both before and during that event. Then they were beaten again by the old enemy in a warm-up game at Taunton before this competition started. Yet, despite those results and even though they needed to equal the highest score of the tournament to make it to the final, the hosts never looked intimidated.

"A lot of people had spoken about our fragile middle order but I hope we have proved a few people wrong," said Edwards. "This was probably as well as we've batted for a long time. The bowling performance was far from perfect, but we'll put that right. And although I said six months ago that the 50-over format was the big prize, if we win at Lord's the profile [of women's cricket] could go from strength to strength.

"I know it's a 10.30am start but I hope people get out of bed and come to watch us before the men's final."

They certainly should. No two batters could have paced the pursuit of a testing target more expertly then Taylor – who plays violin in an orchestra when she's not making big runs – and Morgan, niece of former England spinner Eddie Hemmings. Classical drives were mixed with paddle sweeps, and Australia could not keep them at bay.

New Zealand were the fall girls when England won in Sydney – by four wickets – three months ago. A repeat performance tomorrow would see Edwards and Co on top of the world once again.

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