Suzie Bates in action. ©Sky Sports

Southern Vipers joined Western Storm in the final, beating Loughborough Lightning by five wickets at the County Ground in Hove on Sunday (September 1) in the semi-final of the last season of the Women’s Cricket Super League.

It was, in a way, a canter for the Vipers after their openers gave them a raging start. Chasing 144 for a spot in the final, Danielle Wyatt and Suzie Bates set out doing the damage early on. While a couple of fours off Chamari Atapattu by Bates got things underway, Wyatt smashed Jenny Gunn for 19 in the second over, including two sixes and a four.

Atapattu had more fours hit off her in the fourth over of the innings as Vipers raced to 45 in four overs. By the time the power play ended, Vipers already had 71 runs on the board, with Wyatt on 29 off 13 and Bates on 33 off 23.

Soon, Kirstie Gordon got the breakthrough when she sent Bates back for 37 off 25 – a knock that included six fours and a six. An over later, though,  Wyatt was sent back by Sarah Glenn for a 17-ball 33 featuring three fours and two biggies.

At that point, it seemed Lightning would make a comeback into the match. However, the openers’ blitz at the start had given Vipers an insurance to go slow towards the end.

Maia Bouchier and Tammy Beaumont then began rotating the strike and hitting the odd boundary. The latter stepped on the gas in the 11th over, after Bouchier was dismissed, hitting Gordon for 10. However, she soon fell for 24 off 19.

It was then just a matter of time as Amanda-Jade Wellington and Paige Scholfield sealed the deal without much ado.

Earlier, opting to bat, Lightning got off to a steady start. Chamari Atapattu and Amy Jones hit a four each, before the latter fell. She missed an attempted scoop off Lauren Bell to be castled. Soon enough, even Atapattu was trapped in front of the sticks by Adams. Both the openers had scores of nine and 10 against their names.

Then the two Georgias – Adams and Elwiss – combined for the purple brigade. Apart from rotating the strike, they managed to find one four per over for the next three overs. After 10 overs, Lightning were 61 for 2. The platform for the explosion was getting set.

The eleventh over, bowled by Danielle Wyatt seemed to be the gear-changer. While Elwiss hit a four off it, Adams hit a six soon. It saw them raise the fifty-run stand.

However, in the following over, Elwiss had to depart when Wyatt’s throw from the deep found her short. She walked back for 28 off 22, with the partnership ending at 55 runs. Three balls later, Adams was sent back for a run-a-ball 28.

Since her unbeaten knock of 70, Mignon du Preez hasn’t really set the stage alight. Finals day was a chance for her to play a special knock, given the time she had on hand. Off the 15th over of the innings bowled by Suzie Bates, she began with a six and a four. Abigail Freeborn then hit another four to take 15 off Bates’ over.

Du Preez then carted Fi Morris high over deep mid-wicket for half a dozen, taking her tournament tally to 12. However, the off-spinner soon extracted her revenge. She tossed one up and du Preez couldn’t resist the bait. She yet again aimed to send the ball sailing over the ropes, but only got as far as Wyatt on the fence. After all the promise she showed, she walked back with 21 against her name off just 11 balls.

What then followed was a steady procession of wickets. Lightning ended up losing six wickets for just 33 runs in their last five fours. In fact, they didn’t last their entire quota either.

Yet again, Bates was at the forefront of a batting collapse and a Vipers’ ascendency. After snatching a win from the jaws of defeat against Yorkshire Diamonds earlier in the season, her three-wicket final over shifted the momentum from Lightning to Vipers. She finished with three for 22, to be the pick of the bowlers.

Speaking to the broadcaster after the match, the Player of the Match Bates was glad they restricted the opposition. “I knew while bowling the last over, that as a batter, I wanted to chase as little as possible.”

“It seemed we would be chasing 160 but ended up chasing only 144,” said Beaumont, as she summed up how important the bowlers’ role was in the win.

 

Brief Scores: Loughborough Lightning 143 in 19.5 overs. (Georgia Elwiss 28, Georgia Adams 28; Suzie Bates 3-22, Amanda-Jade Wellington 2-22) lost to Southern Vipers 145/5 in 19 overs (S Bates 37, Danielle Wyatt 31; G Elwiss 1-21) by five wickets. PoM: Suzie Bates.