Heather Knight doubtful for rest of Commonwealth Games as England in semi-finals

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Heather Knight’s availability for the rest of the Commonwealth Games is in fresh doubt as England moved into the semi-finals with a 26-run victory over South Africa.

The England captain had an injection in her hip in a bid to be fit for cricket’s return to the Games after a 24-year wait but she has been sidelined for her side’s two opening Group B wins at Edgbaston.

She is also likely to miss England’s final group game against New Zealand on Thursday and is nervously awaiting the results of a scan which may determine whether she can participate in the finals stages.

After England continued their stranglehold over the Proteas this summer, stand-in skipper Nat Sciver said of her injured team-mate: “She’s not in a good place.

“She’s better than she has been in the last few days, still in a bit of pain with her hip.

“It’s probably going to be a bit quick to play against New Zealand, she went and saw our team doctor and had another scan. She’s waiting on the results of that.”

Knight said last week “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could play a role that’s going to contribute” and the outcome of her screening may inform whether England send for a replacement player.

While she led England to a seminal victory at the 2017 50-over World Cup, her absence in Birmingham has hardly been noticed as the tournament hosts have brushed aside Sri Lanka and now South Africa.

Alice Capsey continued a fine start to her international career after amassing 50 from 37 balls and, although she was one of three wickets to fall in nine deliveries, England recovered from 94 for five to post 167 without further loss thanks to an unbroken 73-run stand from Amy Jones and Katherine Brunt.

Both Jones (36 not out) and Brunt (38no) faced 23 balls apiece and their innings each contained one leg-side six and four fours.

South Africa openers Anneke Bosch and Tazmin Brits were both dropped in the outfield although Sophie Ecclestone atoned for spilling the former at mid-on by breaking through her defences as the Proteas reached a watchful 69 for one at halfway.

Alice Capsey registered her maiden England fifty on Tuesday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Alice Capsey registered her maiden England fifty on Tuesday (Mike Egerton/PA)

But with Lizelle Lee, Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp all unavailable for varying reasons, South Africa lacked the nous to put England under consistent pressure. With the asking rate spiralling, Freya Kemp, Brunt and Sciver took a wicket apiece as South Africa subsided to 141 for four.

This was England’s seventh straight white-ball win over South Africa this summer and their fourth in a row in T20s, having warmed up for these Games with a 14-2 points triumph in a multi-format series.

After New Zealand defeated Sri Lanka by 45 runs later on Tuesday, England’s spot in the semis was assured but they must beat the Kiwis to finish top of the table, with Sciver, who has overseen England’s past four fixtures, happy with how they have performed recently.

Sciver said: “Now I’ve had a bit of a go this summer, I feel like I’m in the groove with it. I feel comfortable to lead the girls on and continue on the good work that Heather’s been doing. We’re in a good place at the minute.”

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