There have been dramatic games at Haslegrave Ground in Loughborough, but there are few that had the crowd on the edge of their deckchairs. On Thursday (August 8), just when both Loughborough Lightning and Southern Vipers looked in charge it took either a brilliant piece of fielding or a rush of blood to the head from the batters to change the momentum of the game. Vipers would eventually win by two wickets with three balls to spare, but they did not make it easy for themselves.
Georgia Elwiss won the toss and just as on Tuesday (August 6) on the same pitch, she chose to bat. It looked a good decision given the strengths of her bowlers who largely like to take the pace off the ball.
Hayley Matthews and Amy Jones got Loughborough Lighting off to a good and steady start. Matthews was naturally cautious after her duck against Western Storm and it took until the third over before she was in full flow hitting Tash Farrant for two fours through cover point. The second was a little uppish but she was away.
Jones at the other end continued where she left off the other day and attacked anything short or wide. Her first four against Lauren Bell may have been fortuitous as she edged through fine third-man for four, but in the following over she hit Stafanie Taylor for a straight six. It was only one of two sixes in the innings – the second coming in the last over as Jenny Gunn deposited the same bowler over the ropes.
Once the pace was taken off the ball, Lightning batters found it difficult to beat the field and Matthews was the first to go for 21. With the final ball of Amanda-Jade Wellington’s first over Matthews went to sweep a ball on leg-stump and was castled – Wellington wheeled away in celebration.
It took some of the stuffing out of Lightning’s innings as Chamari Atapattu never looked in full flow. She stuttered to nine from 20 balls before falling to Taylor in the 14th over.
Paige Scholfield who bowls a range of cutters and slower balls accounted for Jones as she delivered a ball that was marginally short and wide and Jones dragged on to her stumps for 24. Like all of the top three, her strike-rate was under a hundred and meant the middle order had to pick up the pace.
Elwiss and Mignon du Preez went about their jobs busily and full of energy, but without ever breaking free. They added 29 from 24 balls – a partnership that only included one four and relied on the quick running of both batters to turn ones into stolen twos.
Du Preez’s departure to Lauren Bell – who was running in with more pace than the other bowlers – meant the momentum had shifted entirely in Vipers’ favour. It wasn’t until a last gasp effort from Jenny Gunn, who scored a seven-ball 17, took Lightning to 135 for 5 that it felt like Lightning may have a chance.
Danielle Wyatt and Suzie Bates began steadily, finding the boundary regularly. At the end of the power play, Vipers were 39 for no loss and the run rate was slowly creeping up.
Kirstie Gordon made the first breakthrough for Lightning and suddenly Vipers were on edge. Bates was the first of Gordon’s victims – dismissed looking to force the issue – smashing a short ball straight into the lap of Matthews at deep mid-wicket on 22. Two balls later Tammy Beaumont was walking back to the pavilion for a duck. Vipers were suddenly 48 for 2.
Despite the precarious position they were placed in, there wasn’t really much to worry about for the Vipers, as Stafanie Taylor strolled to the middle. Along with Wyatt, she helped pick up the pace and they were soon 80 for 2 after 11.2 overs.
It took a wonderful catch from Sarah Glenn to rid the Lightning of Wyatt for 40. Atapattu was back in the attack and drifted one down leg-side. Wyatt latched onto it. The ball looked beyond Glenn when she stuck out her left hand and it stuck.
The wickets started to fall at regular intervals, poor running was to blame as Thea Brookes and Maia Bouchier both found themselves short of their ground.
While Taylor was still there it was Vipers’ game to lose. Once again, it was Glenn who took the all-important wicket. Taylor was plumb in front and Sue Redfern finally raised the finger. Taylor was gone for 38.
The Vipers were running out of batting but Scholfield kept her cool to cart Glenn nearly out of the ground.
There were seven runs needed from the final over and with the first ball, Wellington reverse swept Matthews for four. Carla Rudd finished the job with two to bring Vipers home with three balls to spare.
Brief Scores: Loughborough Lightning 135/5 in 20 overs (Georgia Elwiss 37, Amy Jones 24) lost to Southern Vipers 136/8 in 19.3 overs (Danielle Wyatt 40, Stafanie Taylor 38; Sarah Glenn 2-22, Kirstie Gordon 2-24) by two wickets.