Western Storm will pin their hopes on Smriti Mandhana once again . ©Western Storm Website

Match Preview: Loughborough Lightning v Western Storm

Date: 06 August 2019

Venue: Haslegrave Ground, Loughborough

Loughborough Lightning will take on Western Storm in their opening match of the Women’s Cricket Super League at Haslegrave Ground in Loughborough on Tuesday (August 6).

This will be the sixth encounter between the two sides and Western Storm have the better record having won four of those games to Loughborough Lightning’s two. Those two wins for Loughborough Lightning bookend the Storm’s dominance and include the closest win (by 5 runs) and the biggest margin of victory (9 wickets).

Loughborough Lighting won the most recent game at Edgbaston in 2018. On that day Kirstie Gordon with 3 for 19 restricted Western Storm to 124 for 6, before an opening stand of 90 between Racheal Haynes and Sophie Devine sealed an easy victory.

Neither Devine or Haynes are with Loughborough Lightning this year. They along with Elyse Villani have been replaced with Hayley Matthews, Chamari Atapattu and Mignon du Preez.

There is a stable core of Amy Jones, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn and Kirstie Gordon the England internationals. Gordon was the leading wicket-taker in the WCSL and county cricket in 2018. Elwiss and Gordon both suffered stress fractures over the winter but are now looking fit and ready to go.

Western Storm again is a model of consistency. Heather Knight will again captain the side and enjoys playing against Loughborough Lightning with the highest individual score of 74 in 2016 at Loughborough. She scored 52 in that year’s semi-final at Chelmsford.

With big hitters like Smriti Mandhana and Rachel Priest who get their side off to an explosive start, Storm’s middle order often has the luxury of taking their time in the middle before hitting the accelerator. Once Knight and Fran Wilson settle in and before you know it Western Storm has secured a stranglehold on the game.

Loughborough will have their task cut out against what is one of the strongest sides in the competition, but they will be up for the challenge.

 

Key players

Hayley Matthews

Matthews will start for her third WCSL team having previously turned out for Lancashire Thunder and Southern Vipers. What Loughborough Lightning will be hoping for is that Matthews starts to show some of her promise.

There were hints before her injury in the winter that she was finding some consistency with the bat for Hobart Hurricanes in the WBBL. If she finds that form then Loughborough Lightning will be challenging for finals day once again.

It is her spin bowling that is probably the most reliable part of her game and she takes her fair share of wickets. She is also a live wire in the field.

 

Smriti Mandhana

Mandhana is a batter who can find the ropes quite easily. Sometimes it can look a little scruffy to start with but once she finds the middle of her bat then the fielding side is in peril.

Mandhana is an important part of this Western Storm side and is tasked with helping Deepti Sharma her fellow India teammate settle. While it may not be a slogan that Western Storm uses but ‘if Priest doesn’t get you Mandhana will’. After what was a record breaking season for the team in green last year, Mandhana will be expected to consistently get het team off to a flying start and put up big scores for her team.

 

Conditions:

This will be the second time that both of these teams have played each other. On that occasion in 2016 Loughborough Lightning won by five runs – both teams scored over 150.

Haslegrave is quite a small compact ground and has a quick outfield. With some of the players on show, there is no reason why the runs won’t flow. Loughborough Lightning chased down 173 on this ground against Southern Vipers in 2018 – so it could be a high scoring thriller to start the season off.

 

Squads:

Loughborough Lightning: Georgia Elwiss (c), Jenny Gunn, Amy Jones, Kirstie Gordon, Mignon du Preez, Hayley Matthews, Chamari Atapattu, Abbey Freeborn, Lucy Higham, Tara Norris, Alice Monaghan, Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Glenn, Georgia Adams, Jo Gardner.

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

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