Sophia Dunkley using World Cup final as motivation ahead of must-win Pakistan match

Sophia Dunkley in action during England’s match against New Zealand

England will be visualising what a final could be like when they take on Pakistan in Christchurch tomorrow, according to Sophia Dunkley.

Hagley Oval will host one of the semi-finals as well as the showpiece next week but will first welcome England and Pakistan for the first group game to be played in Christchurch.

Before England can attempt to reach the final, they must win their remaining two group games but can call on their knowledge of beating New Zealand on the same ground last year.

“We love it here at Christchurch,” Dunkley said. “We played here a year ago and it’s a great ground. The pitch looks nice and the nets were really good as well.

“I think being here and looking at the outfield and everything, it’d be great to be here in a week and a half’s time and it’s nice to visualise that as well. It’s definitely really good motivation for that.”

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The defending champions have faced plenty of close matches during the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, coming out on the winning side in each of their last two nail-biting encounters. Both have been must-win and the Pakistan tie is no different.

“The last two games were almost like semi-finals in themselves for us because, had we lost, it would have put us in a terrible position,” the right-hander explained.

“I think having those experiences and those feelings will be great and hopefully, we can get a couple more wins that aren’t as nerve-wracking or aren’t as close, but it is good to have that experience for sure.”

England face a Pakistan side fresh from their first World Cup victory in 13 years after defeating the West Indies by eight wickets. And Dunkley is well aware of the threats they will pose, particularly with spin.

She said: “They played really well the other day and beat West Indies really well, so they’ve got a lot of good players in that team.

“It is a game we obviously need to win. We’re going to be looking out for them and making sure we can combat that.

“The other day against the West Indies, Pakistan’s bowling attack was really good. They have got a lot of good spin in their attack and we know that there’s going to be a lot of spin coming our way.

“It’s just about playing that the best we can with the bat and putting in a good performance against them. They’ve obviously come up with a great win so it will be challenging, I’m sure.”

Pakistan captain Bismah Maroof is hoping their momentous victory will not be a one-off as her side look to produce another strong performance against the defending champions.

She said: “First I felt a sigh of relief, we were under pressure and it’s good to have a win.

“We just need to get this momentum forward and we’re looking forward to the two matches, starting with tomorrow.

“They are a good side, we know they have many good players who can win matches for them.

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“We just need to stick to our basics. We’re planning to play to our strengths and what potential we have to stay in the process and then see what the result will be tomorrow.”

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