England reach Women's Cricket World Cup Final following thrilling two-wicket win over South Africa

England are the first team to book their spot in the Women's Cricket World Cup final, after they defeated South Africa by two wickets in Bristol. 

In what turned out to be a nail-biting contest, a crucial innings of 27 not out from number eight Jenny Gunn led the hosts to victory after they had suffered a mid-innings collapse during their pursuit of 219 for victory. 

Earlier in the day, Mignon du Preez and Laura Wolvaardt had each hit half-centuries as South Africa posted 218-6 from their overs, yet a boundary hit by Anya Shrubsole from the fourth ball of the final over saw England creep home by two wickets. 

Proteas set challenging total despite strong English fielding effort

Having won the toss and chosen to bat at the County Ground, South Africa didn't make the best of starts, losing Lizelle Lee and Trisha Chetty inside the opening 12 overs. Lee was bowled by Shrubsole for just seven with the 33rd delivery of the day, while Chetty fell to Nat Sciver for 15 following an outstanding stumping from Sarah Taylor to what was a wide delivery. 

Wolvaardt and du Preez then shared in a 77-run partnership which lasted 20 overs to keep the English bowlers at bay for the majority of the middle-overs.

Du Preez was the more aggressive of the batter's, eventually ending the innings unbeaten on 76 from 95 deliveries, with the 18-year-old Wolvaardt batting beyond her year's for a well-made 66.

England's ground-fielding played a crucial part in keeping South Africa in check, with both Marizanne Kapp (1) and Dane van Niekerk (27) run out by the combinations of Shrubsole and Taylor, and then Sciver and Alex Hartley respectively. 

England celebrate a South African wicket (image source: Harry Trump-IDI-Contributor/Getty Images)

Chloe Tryon was caught-and-bowled by Gunn for just one, leaving Suné Luus to accompany du Preez to the end of the 50 overs for a useful partnership of 48.

Gunn leads England home after middle-order stutter during chase

In their pursuit of 219 for a place in Sunday's Lord's final, England made a circumspect start to their chase, with the out-of-form Lauren Winfield making just 20 from 43 balls before she fell to the terrific Ayabonga Khaka.

Khaka, who had been smashed for 64 from her ten overs in the corresponding group fixture between these sides, produced an excellent spell of bowling this time around. Bowling all ten of her overs without coming out of the attack, Khaka accounted for the wicket of Winfield's fellow opener Tammy Beaumont for 15 to leave the birthday-girl with figures of 10-2-28-2.

Taylor and Heather Knight steadied the ship for England with a crucial partnership of 78 before the home side suffered a collapse. Player of the Match, Taylor, was first to go for 54 when she was run out by van Niekerk, with the spin of Luus then knocking over Knight (30) and Sciver (3) to leave England 145-5, still 74 short of their target with 16 overs remaining. 

Sarah Taylor sweeping on her way to 54 (image source: Harry Trump-IDI-Contributor/Getty Images)

The duo of Fran Wilson and Katherine Brunt were forced to rebuild the innings and after putting together a partnership of 28 which soaked up 50 deliveries, Brunt was bowled by Moseline Daniels to put South Africa back in the ascendancy.

With over 130 ODI's of experience to her name, Gunn was the perfect player to be coming in at England's moment of need, and she turned the game on it's head with a match-winning innings of 27. Finding the boundary on three occasions, and making a huge difference to the team's running between the wickets, the 31-year-old Gunn hardly flinched despite the losses of Wilson (30) and Laura Marsh (1) to set up the win which was confirmed by a boundary from Shrubsole in the fourth ball of the final over to spark joyous scenes in the England dressing room.

Mark Robinson's side will meet the winners of Thursday's second semi-final between India and Australia, with the showpiece event taking place at a sold-out Lord's on Sunday.