England women out of World T20

Britney Cooper & Danielle Hazell

Danielle Hazell is comprehensively bowled as England's pursuit approaches its nadir on the way to a two-run defeat in St Kitts

England women's defence of their ICC World Twenty20 title is over after they crashed out of the tournament following a two-run defeat to West Indies in St Kitts.

Charlotte Edwards’ team looked set to get their campaign back on track after an opening defeat to Australia.

At 65 without loss from nine overs, they were well placed to overhaul a target of 123 against the hosts.

But the loss of openers Sarah Taylor for 33 and Edwards for 31 instigated a desperate collapse as England slumped to 66 for four.

They struggled to regained the early momentum as wickets fell regularly.

Lydia Greenway, who finished unbeaten on 26, tried her best to steer England home but, with victory possible from the final ball, Katherine Brunt was run out to leave England agonisingly short on 120 for nine.

Laura Marsh had earlier taken 3-17, including the wicket of top-scorer Juliana Nero for 32, to restrict West Indies to 122 for eight.

England captain Edwards said: “A lot of credit has to go to West Indies. I thought they bowled really well in periods and some loose shots means the pressure builds up in Twenty20 and time runs out in the end."

Coach Mark Lane said: “We’ve played some brilliant cricket over the last two years, but we’ve come across a bit of a stumbling block over here in the West Indies.

“The standard of women’s cricket has really kicked on over the last 12 months.”

Australia - England’s conquerors on Wednesday - booked their place in the semi-finals alongside West Indies with a 24-run win over South Africa that ended the Proteas' hopes of progressing.

Shelley Nitschke hit 44 off 32 balls at the top of the order and Leah Poulton 39 off 25 as Australia were bowled out 155 with three balls unused.

South Africa never threatened to match the required run-rate, though, and fell some way short despite Mignon du Preez’s unbeaten 53.