Surrey Stars secured their first ever Kia Super League final with victory over Western Strom by 9 runs in a tight semi-final. It was a captain’s knock by Nat Sciver that put Surrey Stars in the box seat.
The absence of Smriti Mandhana meant that Western Storm had to re-jig their batting and it came as a surprise to many when Anya Shrubsole was given the role of opening batting. She has done so before in county cricket for Somerset.
First, though she had to strap on her bowling boots and bowl. Heather Knight had won the toss and it is a clear tactic of Western Storm to chase down the runs.
Shrubsole got the early breakthrough as she had Lizelle Lee caught behind. Lee walked much to the disappointment of the umpire who was ready to raise the finger.
Sarah Taylor and Bryony Smith started to establish the innings, and Smith finally looked to be on for a score. She, however, was unlucky as she chopped a ball onto her pads and the ball trickled onto her stumps.
Sarah Taylor’s dismissal wasn’t down to misfortune. She tried a reverse sweep two balls after scoring four with the same shot. This time, however, Taylor guided it in the direction of Fran Wilson who diving forward who caught it down low on the edge of a used wicket.
Much would rely on Sciver getting a score. She would go onto equal the highest score for a finals day with 72 not out. It came in a partnership with Marizanne Kapp who was also unbeaten at the end. The pair put on 90 for the sixth wicket.
There was a period of 14 balls faced by Sciver where she hit 7 fours. It turned the game in her side’s favour. Western Storm had been in situations like this before and they could not be discounted.
The experiment of Shrubsole batting at the top of the order didn’t work. She lasted just 5 balls before being caught in the deep by Dane van Niekerk.
Rachel Priest was to go soon after as Sciver took the first of two wickets to go with her runs.
While Fran Wilson and Heather Knight were at the crease it still looked as if Western Storm were going to chase the target. Sophia Dunkley not for the first time this season took the wicket of Knight to swing the game back in Surrey Stars favour.
Wilson finished with an unbeaten 58 but with could not keep the strike in the final two overs as they still needed over 10 runs to win.
It was not to be for Western Strom and the only thing certain in the final now is we will have a new name on the trophy for the third year in a row.