Mignon du Preez scored an unbeaten 70 off just 41 balls to take Loughborough Lightning to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over Surrey Stars at Woodbridge Road in Guildford on Thursday (August 15). Du Preez shared an unbroken 92-run stand with Georgia Adams to help Lightning register their second win in this edition of Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL).
Du Preez, who had got starts in the previous matches but failed to convert them into more meaningful scores, silenced her doubters in some style by dominating Stars bowling attack, spanking 13 fours along the way.
Hayley Matthews, who bowled particularly well to pick up 2 for 12, started Lightning’s chase of 121 in style, smashing Marizanne Kapp’s first ball for a boundary. However, she failed to make a bigger impact with the bat, falling in the very next over to Mady Villiers for five. Soon enough, Lightning found themselves two down – Kapp removing Jones in the following over.
Du Preez joined Chamari Atapattu in the middle, with Lightning hobbling at 13 for 2 in 2.2 overs. She found her feet straight away crashing two boundaries off her first four balls.
The introduction of Dane van Niekerk, the leg spinner, saw the back of Atapattu for four, and Lightning were in even deeper trouble at 31 for 3. In the absence of Georgia Elwiss they looked light on the batting front, and Stars were clearly in the ascendency. The hosts owned the power play, refusing to let Lightning get away – keeping them to 39 for 3, facing a mountain to climb.
That, however, was the only period of play where Stars had control over Lightning.
Du Preez continued to attack and she found an able ally in Georgia Adams. The partnership ticked along nicely as they brought 50 up in just six overs. Adams was slow to start with but gained confidence in the company of her senior partner. The South African hit the gaps nicely, ran hard and always made sure to put the loose ball away. She took toll on all the Stars bowlers – carting Kapp, Sciver, Marsh and Villiers for three boundaries each – and made sure the punishment was served equally.
Stars’ much vaunted spin trio of Laura Marsh, van Niekerk and Villiers were unable to break the partnership, conceding 76 runs in 9.5 overs and only one wicket between them.
Du Preez brought her fifty up in just 32 balls in the 13th over and attacked Villiers in the 15th over with three fours that well and truly sealed the deal for Lightning. Her efforts headlined Lightning’s second win of the tournament, as she took them home in the company of Adams, who was unbeaten on a 27-ball 34, with 31 balls to spare.
Earlier in the day, Lightning were struck with a major blow before a ball was bowled, as they lost their regular skipper Georgia Elwiss due to injury. Jenny Gunn was the stand-in captain for this match.
After inserting Stars, Lightning would have certainly hoped to start well – the wicket of Lizelle Lee would have served them best. However, the start was far from ideal as Lee put pressure on Lightning’s bowlers straight away, clobbering Tara Norris for 16 runs in the second over. One couldn’t have blamed Lightning if images of the final in 2018 were flashing in front of their eyes.
Despite Stars’ rollicking start, Lightning finally struck in the fifth over when Gunn dismissed Bryony Smith for 14. It was the wicket that would start a mini-collapse. Lee (25) fell in the following over to Matthews, who was in the middle of an inspired spell. She kept the Stars batters on a tight leash, not giving them much to work with, keeping them under pressure and forcing them to try something different. It was just how she removed Lee, and then followed it up with the wicket of Natalie Sciver (23) in the 14th over, just when a partnership had begun to form.
With Stars 82 for 5, it appeared Lightning were bossing the game. However, Stars’ lower middle order pulled together to eke out some runs in the final six over to help the hosts finish on 120 for 7 in their 20 overs. On what appeared to be a slowish pitch, it was a competitive total, but du Preez’s incredible innings made it appear otherwise.
Matthews and Kathryn Bryce starred with the ball for Lightning as they picked up two wickets each.
Brief Scores: Surrey Stars 120/7 in 20 overs (Lizelle Lee 25, Natalie Sciver 23; Hayley Matthews 2-12, Kathryn Bryce 2-16) lost to Loughborough Lightning 123/3 in 14.5 overs (Mignon du Preez 70*, Georgia Adams 34*) by seven wickets.