To conclude that England needed only five balls to reach the Women's World Twenty20 final yesterday would be pushing it. But not by much.
It was at that point that they ran out Suzy Bates, the New Zealand captain. If it was one of those dreadful mix-ups that happen – Bates was desperate to get her side up and running – it was compounded by a smart piece of fielding.
Lydia Greenway dived, stopped, threw while Bates was still shaking hands with her partner. There was no way back for New Zealand. England, the best female side around and the only unbeaten team in either competition, exerted a grip from which there was no escape.
Wriggle as the White Ferns might they were going nowhere and certainly not near the final on Sunday. England did what they had to do. It was a turgid contest on a slow, tired, turning pitch.
As Charlotte Edwards, the England captain, said: "We were happy with the performance, especially our bowling and fielding. It probably wasn't the greatest spectacle for women's cricket but it was pretty hard. The slower you bowled the harder it was to hit."
"We manoeuvred the ball round into gaps and with the paddle sweeps that we used to do it I think that was the difference between the two teams."
There were only 14 fours in the entire match, six for New Zealand, eight for England. There was only one six, struck by England's star batsman, Sarah Taylor, and assessed as travelling 63 metres.
England won by seven wickets with 16 balls to spare, chasing down a target of 93 much as they liked. Taylor hit the winning runs, finishing with 21 not out in 31 balls but this was one of her less fluent innings. Greenway, who shared in a stand of 40 from 39 balls for the third wicket, was the more enterprising half of the partnership. She took command early, unfurled the reverse paddle at will and worked the angles, especially square of the wicket, more smartly than an inside trader.
England will play either Australia or West Indies in the final, which will be a curtain raiser to the men's match. Whoever it is will be up against it. England beat West Indies 4-1 at home late in the summer and have defeated Australia in seven of their last eight matches.
Edwards, not complacent, is not worried either. "West Indies have got a bit of the X factor about them with Deandra Dottin and Stefanie Taylor who can clear these boundaries. Four or five of them are good spinners. The Aussies will look at that pitch and probably prefer a slightly quicker one.
"It's a wicket we feel comfortable on. We're good players of spin, it's something we pride ourselves on and obviously having four spinners, some of them all rounders, in the side is a benefit to us. We won't be disappointed if it's a wicket like that for the final. I think that it might play into our hands."
Women's cricket has not yet broken through the glass ceiling. The ICC has made that pretty clear in the prize money for this tournament: $1m for men, $60,000 for women. This does not quite represent the vast gulf in ability but no one is complaining.
Much more discriminating to the point of humiliation is the difference in daily allowance, $100 for men, $60 for women, as though it costs women less to live. It might have been the other way round. The ICC recognises it has made a mistake.
There was plenty to respect in yesterday's match, little to admire. Without Bates, her country's leading scorer in Twenty20, New Zealand were rudderless. Amy Satterthwaite was left to try to hold the innings together but it was a mission she was undertaking with string and sealing wax.
England simply put the squeeze on, their spinners cannily accurate, their fielding precise. Holly Colvin, the slow left armer, took 2-15. New Zealand did not make enough of the bad balls.
England had a diligent start as Edwards and Laura Marsh worked out the pace. Marsh was out driving to mid-off, Edwards more culpably hitting a wide long hop to point when she was set. It took a good catch and did not prevent being made player of the match for the astute captaincy combined with her 33 but she knew that she had given it away.
There have been 27 sixes in the women's tournament so far although the ball is smaller and the boundaries are a maximum of 64 metres. The heat is the same for everybody, of course.
"We can't control the heat," Edwards said. "It was slightly warmer than Galle for the group matches but we've got one more game in it and then we can get home to the snow probably."
Colombo (One Day): England Women beat New Zealand Women by 7 wickets; England Women won toss
*S W Bates run out 0/0/0/5/0
A E Satterthwaite c Gunn b Colvin 30/0/3/39/0
S F M Devine c Brunt b Wyatt 11/0/1/14/0
F Mackay lbw b Shrubsole 2/0/0/9/0
S J McGlashan st Taylor b Colvin 3/0/0/7/0
N J Browne c Greenway b Marsh 18/0/1/23/0
†K J Martin st Taylor b Wyatt 19/0/1/17/0
E M Bermingham run out 1/0/0/1/0
L R Doolan not out 3/0/0/5/0
M J G Nielsen not out 1/0/0/1/0
Extras (lb2 w2 nb1) 5
Total (for 8, 20 overs) 93
Fall 1-0, 2-17, 3-30, 4-42, 5-57, 6-83, 7-85, 8-91.
Did not bat S E A Ruck.
Bowling K H Brunt 3-1-7-0, D Hazell 4-0-18-0, D N Wyatt 3-0-15-2, A Shrubsole 3-0-16-1, L A Marsh 3-0-20-1, H L Colvin 4-0-15-2.
*C M Edwards c Devine b Bermingham 33/0/5/37/0
L A Marsh c Nielsen b Ruck 11/0/1/17/0
†S J Taylor not out 21/1/0/32/0
L S Greenway c Devine b Ruck 22/0/2/19/0
A Brindle not out 0/0/0/0/0
Extras (w6 nb1) 7
Total (for 3, 17.2 overs) 94
Fall 1-32, 2-53, 3-93.
Did not bat D N Wyatt, J L Gunn, K H Brunt, A Shrubsole, D Hazell, H L Colvin.
Bowling N J Browne 4-0-16-0, S E A Ruck 4-0-22-2, E M Bermingham 3-0-18-1, L R Doolan 2-0-12-0, M J G Nielsen 2-0-11-0, F Mackay 2-0-14-0, S F M Devine 0.2-0-1-0.
Umpires M Erasmus and B N J Oxenford.Reuse content