Loughborough Lightning have finally found found their feet in the 2019 WCSL. © Getty Images

Loughborough Lightning left it late to beat Yorkshire Diamonds at Haslegrave ground in Loughborough on Sunday (August 18). A late assault from Mignon du Preez after Lightning’s bowlers and fielders restricted Diamonds to 129 all out guided the hosts to a six-wicket win – their third of the season – with five deliveries to spare. It gave Lightning their first win at home this season.

Defending only 130, it was a spirited bowling performance by Diamonds as they put the misery of Thursday (August 15) behind them. There was a spell in the middle overs when Loughborough Lightning’s batters Charmari Atapattu and Amy Jones, were struggling to get the ball off the square and they weren’t rotating the strike either.

It was looking comfortable for Lightning in the power play, as they calmly collected 40 for o in the first six overs. Diamonds had brought Beth Langston into the side, and alongside Leigh Kasperek and Katie George, she helped die the hosts down with the bat – forcing them to earn every run.

Hayley Matthews was the first wicket to go for a 23 ball 24. Katie Levick bowled her with a ball that never got far off the ground.

It was a wicket that ground Lightning’s innings to a halt as Atapattu struggled to get off the mark. Her innings of 15 came from 21 balls before she was run out by George. Jones called the left-hander through for a single only for the Sri Lankan to delay her run, and was comfortably out. Jones went next ball edging Langston behind to Alyssa Healy who took a good, low catch to send her back for 29. The opener had just hit the first six of Lightning’s innings – launching Kasperek straight back over her head.

Unusually the quick collapse seemed to work in Lightning’s favour as du Preez and Georgia Elwiss began racing between the wickets to lift the run rate. It was a tactic that started to open up gaps in the field that could be exploited, and with du Preez in good form she did just that.

The South African’s innovative methods put the bowlers off their line and length. Known more for her busy style – knocking the ball into gaps, running hard between the wickets and using the pace of the bowlers – du Preez smashed as many as four sixes through the course of her unbeaten 22-ball 38. Quite fittingly, she ended the game with a straight six off the bowling of Linsey Smith.

Earlier in the day, another promising Diamonds innings fell apart among a flurry of run-outs. Just as had happened at York on Thursday, Diamonds put themselves in a position to shine. Rodrigues was the star of their innings, coming in at 46 for 3 and registering her maiden Women’s Cricket Super League half-century.

It was a difficult start for Diamonds who could not get Lightning’s bowlers away. They had won the toss and chosen to bat on a surface that has traditionally seen teams batting first struggle a fair bit. The bowlers have almost always capitalised on this. That happened on Sunday as Kathryn Bryce continued her fine form with the ball and after three overs the Diamonds were only 13 for 0.

The pressure told and Lauren Winfield, one of the most consistent Yorkshire batters this season, tried to smash Jenny Gunn back over her head. She went through the shot too early and while Georgia Adams had to turn and take the ball over her shoulder it was an easy catch. Winfield was gone for nine from 12 balls.

Two overs later Alyssa Healy was heading back to the pavilion having scored two fours from the first five overs. She  latched on to a slightly short ball from Matthews attempting to send it towards the mid-wicket boundary, but only managed to find the diminutive Lucy Higham on the fence, who took a good running catch.

Rodrigues was in good rhythm and took just 34 balls to reach her fifty. She struck six boundaries along the way, before falling to Elwiss in the 19th over for 59. Diamonds really needed her to be there at the end of the innings to help them with a big finish. Just as on Thursday though the running between the wickets was a problem for the Diamonds as they lost six wickets for just 23 runs with four run-outs proving to be the downfall.

They were dismissed for 129 in 20 overs, and realistically, it was never enough for a side like Lightning whose batting unit have finally found their form.

 

Brief Scores: Yorkshire Diamonds 129 in 20 overs (Jemimah Rodrigues 58; Hayley Matthews 2-19) lost to Loughborough Lightning 135/4 in 19.1 overs (Mignon du Preez 38*, Amy Jones 29) by six wickets.