In was billed as first versus second, the best bowling attack against the best batting attack. This game at Edgbaston finished in a one-sided victory for Loughborough Lightning who leapfrogged their opponents’ Western Storm by 9 wickets with 45 balls to spare.
Much was expected of the Western Strom top order who have so far taken this year’s Kia Super League by… um, storm.
Before today, their only defeat had come against the inconsistent Surrey Stars. On that occasion, they batted first. Georgia Elwiss the Loughborough Lightning captain had little hesitation in putting her opponents in with similar consequences.
For some that could have been a dangerous move considering the form of Smriti Mandhana. The Indian international seemed to be struggling to hit the ball as cleanly as usual. 29 from 27 balls is good for the mear mortal but Mandhana sets standards out of this world. Today it was the turn of Loughborough Lightning to get the better of her.
It was the young spinner Kirstie Gordon who is having a season to remember for Nottinghamshire and Loughborough Lightning. In the space of two balls, she got rid of the leading Western Storm batters. Mandhana looking to go big found Elyse Villani at long off and the Australian took a cool low catch.
Next ball she spun one past the edge of England captain Heather Knight and bowled her for 22. Gordon also accounted for the wicket of Stafanie Taylor to give her 3 for 19 and the scalps of some extraordinary batters.
Taylor and Fran Wilson were picking up the singles but there were only three fours in their partnership of 38. 19 not out from Sophie Luff towards the end ensured that Western Storm finished with 123 for 6 from their allotted overs.
It was in the end never enough. As on Saturday, Loughborough Lightning only needed three batters to knock off their required total.
Even had Sophie Devine been caught on 16 in the deep it would have made little difference that Rachael Haynes is in at the moment. She picked up her third fifty of the tournament scoring 66 from 40 balls.
The decision to open with Haynes in the rain reduced 6 over a side game at Taunton between these two sides was criticised. It was felt that Haynes wasn’t going to score at a quick enough rate. On that day she didn’t but since then has been striking the ball as anyone in this tournament.
Devine was eventually caught by Danielle Gibson for 38 with Loughborough Lightning on 90. It took a character from the 17-year-old who had dropped a similar catch earlier in the match.
Gibson has plenty of character and again she showed that with her bowling she may have bowled 9 balls in the game but she has been impressive throughout the tournament and she will come back stronger.
The only games that Loughborough Lightning have lost are the games that have been shortened by the inclement weather and over the course of a 20 over game look like they can beat anyone.