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England captain Knight aiming for ‘perfect’ final

LONDON: England captain Heather Knight hopes her side will have saved their best for last when they face India in the Women’s World Cup final at Lord’s on Sunday.

Tournament hosts England suffered a surprise 35-run defeat by India in their very first pool match of this year’s World Cup.

But since that Derby disappointment, England have gone seven games unbeaten, edging out defending champions Australia by three runs in pool play before just seeing off South Africa by two wickets in a tense semi-final at Bristol on Tuesday.

“We keep finding ways to win at the moment, we haven’t quite put the perfect performance together, we’d readily admit that,” said Knight.

“There’s still one game to go and if we put a perfect performance in then, I’ll be a very happy captain,” the top-order batsman added.

“What a (semi-final) game and we’re delighted to get to that final. We back the depth in our team and we’re finding ways to win at the moment.

Read More: Taylor helps steer England into Women’s World Cup final

“The plan was to get to Lord’s and sing our (team victory) song and we’re one step closer to that.

“It was a massive carrot going into the semi-final and lucky we had the wise head of Jenny Gunn to get over the line, so we’re delighted,” explained Knight, looking to lead England to a fourth World Cup title and first since 2009.

Sunday’s match will be India’s second appearance in the final, following a 2005 defeat by Australia.

But they reached this year’s final with a stunning 36-run semi-final win over Australia at Derby on Thursday, featuring a stunning 171 not out from Harmanpreet Kaur.

For 36-year-old India captain Mithali Raj and senior pace bowler Jhulan Goswami, Sunday’s match is set to be their last chance to win a World Cup.

“For me and Jhulan it is very special because we are the only players from 2005 still with the team and for us it feels like going back to 2005,” said Raj.

“We are all very excited to be part of the World Cup final. We knew this tournament wasn’t going to be easy but the girls have turned up at every situation when the team needed (them to).

“I’m so happy that the girls have given us an opportunity again to be part of the World Cup final.”

Raj added: “It definitely is not going to be easy for England, but having beaten Australia, I am sure the girls are on a high but it will boil down to how we perform on the day.

“Playing the hosts in their own country is going to be a challenge but this unit is up for it.”

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