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England set for showdown with India in U19 World Cup Final

England need just one more victory to cement themselves as World Champions in the first ever Women’s U19 World Cup. There's just a final hurdle standing in their way - India.

The England squad excelled from day one when they powered to a 176-run win over Zimbabwe in their opening game. Captain Grace Scrivens has had the Midas touch with bat, ball and coin and started her campaign winning the toss and putting in a player of the match performance taking 4-2(4) and scoring 45 (32). Niamh Holland (56) and Charis Pavely (45) were also in the runs while Josie Groves and Sophia Smale picked up 2-wickets apiece.

England’s road to the semi-final continued unblemished as they brushed aside Pakistan, Rwanda, Ireland and the West Indies all with relative ease. It wasn’t until their semi-final that they faced a test. Amassing just 99 against the old rival Australia, it looked like the team on the charge had run out of steam. But a hard fight and a match-winning 3-10 from Hannah Baker saw them remain unbeaten and claim a one-way ticket to the final.

Just as England fans' nails are recovering from that agonising victory over Australia, they now must look ahead to the final and the prospect of facing India - a team they have not yet met in this tournament and a team very much with momentum and confidence

The Indian team is armed with a masterful spin-bowling attack, blistering openers Shweta Sehrawat and Shafali Verma and the belief that they can take this title. They have lost only once - a seven-wicket defeat by Australia in the Super Sixes. Unflustered, they recovered quickly and saw off Sri Lanka by seven-wickets thanks to Parshavi Chopra’s 4-5 before dominating New Zealand in the semi-final. Chopra shone again with the ball taking 3-20 as they restricted the Kiwi side to 107-9 and Sehrawat’s unbeaten 61 off 45 saw them chase down their target with 34 balls remaining.

Captains fantastic – Scrivens vs Shafali

Scrivens’ magic touch has seen her win every toss, tot up the highest score of the tournament (93) and seats her second on the list for most runs with 289. She has also impressed with the ball. Her 4-2 puts her third for best figures also with an impressive economy rate of 2.88. Her energy on the pitch is palpable and she leads from the front with rousing team talks, inventive field placements, and with both bat and ball.

“We’ve given ourselves a chance with a win [over Australia] and obviously we can go into the game with confidence in the way we defended that. It would mean everything and that’s what we’re in for. The way we defended that total and stuck together gives us real confidence going into the final.” - Grace Scrivens.

Shafali Verma announced herself on the world stage as a 16-year-old but being captain of a young side is a different challenge and one she has quickly taken to. She opened her U19 World Cup account with a rapid-fire 45 off 16 balls and 2-31 against South Africa before smashing a two-run-a-ball 78 against the UAE. In their semi-final, it was her economical bowling that stood out as she took 1-7 from four overs. Having just turned 19 on Saturday, a World Cup win would be the perfect birthday present.

“I can’t find the words but I’m really happy the way the whole team works together and is backing each other. It’s looking good." - Shafali Verma.

The Indian run machine

It may have been predicted that Shweta Sehrawat was going to play the supporting role to Shafali Verma at the top of the order. However, the 18-year-old, who is yet to be capped at senior level, announced herself in India’s opening game against South Africa. Her unbeaten 92* off 57 included a staggering 20 fours and powered them to a seven-wicket victory. She picked up the player of the match award and made observers sit up and take notice. It took until India’s fourth game for the opener to be dismissed. Her form dipped slightly in games against Australia and Sri Lanka but runs where it mattered in the semi-final mean that, heading into the final, she sits top of both the leading run scorers with 292 and best batting average with 146. Her wicket is key for England.

“She’s very comfortable batting and she has all the shots. I’m really happy the way she’s scoring runs and I hope she can score in the final also.” - Shafali on Sehrawat.

England must now take on the run machine, captain Shafali and the spin power of India to get that last win and become the first side to lift the ICC U19 Women’s T20 World Cup trophy.

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