Heather Knight. ©Western Storm
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Match Preview: Western Storm vs Lancashire Thunder

Date: 10 August 2019

Venue: The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton

Five matches into the 2019 Women’s Cricket Super League, we have just seen two close games; the others have been relatively one sided. Lancashire Thunder, who feature in the second category, play their third game in the space of five days. Thunder are still searching for a win and such frequent match days don’t help when momentum isn’t with you.

On both the occasions Thunder’s batting that has left a lot to be desired. Sune Luus, the opening batter, has failed to get going and that has put pressure on Georgie Boyce, Tahlia McGrath and Harmanpreet. Sophia Dunkley, too, has been far from impressive.

In Thunder’s last game against Surrey Stars, only one batter looked a class apart from the rest. Kaur displayed her versatile shots all around the ground to remain unbeaten on 58. It was because of her efforts the total of 120 looked competitive. Their bowling too came a cropper against the Stars. The spin quartet of Sophie Ecclestone, Emma Lamb, Sophia Dunkley and Alex Hartley hardly looked incisive, which was a stark contrast to Stars’ spinners, who bagged a total of five wickets. The road ahead only seems tougher as Thunder next face Western Storm.

In their opening game of the tournament, Storm continued from where they left last season. They started the tournament with an ever-so-clinical performance against Loughborough Lightning by clinching a seven-wicket victory. Storm’s bowlers first restricted Lightnings to 125 and then their batters sealed the deal with 18 balls to spare. It was an all-round team effort from Storm wherein each player essayed their role to perfection. Freya Davies and Claire Nicholas picked up two wickets apiece, while Deepti Sharma had a memorable start to her WCSL career. Smriti Mandhana and Heather Knight set up the chase while Fran Wilson finished things off. It would be interesting to see what Thunder do from here as with each loss their qualification chances reduce.

The odds are heavily stacked against Thunder. It is time they show that they can give the other teams a run for their money. On the other hand, it is hard to look past Storm whenever they take the field. They are clinical with both bat and ball and have the look of a well settled side.

Saturday’s (August 10) will be a game to watch, as India’s T20I captain and vice-captain square off against one another.

 

Key Players:

Heather Knight:

Knight put the Ashes debacle behind her and started the tournament with a good knock of 41 that set up the chase for her team against Lightning. A cool and calm customer, she was spot on with her captaincy and rotated the bowlers well. With the bat her temperament shone through as she shouldered responsibility in the run chase. The Storm skipper will look to continue the form she displayed against Lightning.

 

Georgie Boyce:

Boyce displayed maturity beyond her years in the first match against Southern Vipers as she scored 43 off 41 balls and put her team in a decent position in the chase for the late flourish. Alas it was not to be as she got out trying to up the ante. Even in her brief stay in the middle against Surrey, she looked good before throwing away her wicket. Thus, she would look to capitalise on her starts in the next game, while giving Thunder a good platform from which to launch.

 

Conditions:

It’s a day game in Taunton, so the team winning the toss will look to bat as the pitch will get slower and slower in the second half. The pitch is generally on the drier side and the spinners of both the teams will play a vital role in deciding the outcome of the match.

 

Teams:

Lancashire Thunder: Kate Cross (c), Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone, Sophia Dunkley, Georgie Boyce, Emma Lamb, Natalie Brown, Danielle Collins, Alice Dyson, Ria Fackrell, Ellie Threkeld, Eve Jones, Harmanpreet Kaur, Sune Luus, Tahlia McGrath.

Western Storm:  Heather Knight (c), Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson, Freya Davies, Dani Gibson, Ellie Mitchell, Claire Nicholas, Sophie Luff, Naomi Dattani, Amara Carr, Sonia Odedra, Alex Griffiths, Smriti Mandhana, Rachel Priest, Deepti Sharma.

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