Lizelle Lee scored a rapid half-century. ©Sky Sports

The South African duo of Dane van Niekerk and Lizelle Lee powered Surrey Stars to an easy eight-wicket victory over Lancashire Thunder in their second match of the 2019 Women’s Cricket Super League at Woodbridge Road in Guildford on Thursday (August 8).

Stars’ chase of 121 began disastrously as Bryony Smith fell for four trying to cart Emma Lamb, the off-spinner, for her second boundary of the over. However, Lee, Smith’s opening partner, took the attack to Thunder, refusing to let them grasp the upper hand. The right-hander smashed a 32-ball half-century mixing brute strength and delicate touch through the course of her innings. She took a particular liking to Kate Cross, Thunder’s skipper, smashing her for 20 runs off 15 deliveries.

The hosts brought up their 50 up in the seventh over as Lee smashed Hartley for 14 runs. She hit top gear early, unleashing the pummel down the ground and a few powerful slog sweeps against the spin quartet of Sophie Ecclestone, Alex Hartley, Sophia Dunkley and Lamb. Quite fittingly, she brought up her half-century with a punishing shot through cover off the bowling of Dunkley. Lee’s 45-ball 66— which included an outrageous stand and deliver six over extra cover— ensured that Thunder had no way come back in to the match as she smacked seven fours and three sixes.

Lee shared a 100-run stand with Sarah Taylor for the second wicket. They put Thunder’s attack to the sword, collecting their runs at a rate of 9.52 per over. While Lee was in the middle, Taylor was happy to play second fiddle— feeding her the strike and only going after what was in her ‘area’. She flew under the radar through much of the partnership, and was still able to collect seven boundaries in her 27-ball 36.

Thunder received some respite when Lee was dismissed by Hartley— wonderfully caught on the deep square leg boundary by Sune Luus— with Stars still needing 13 runs to win, but Natalie Sciver was quick to polish off the remaining runs. Stars romped to a comfortable victory in 14.2 overs with Sciver (12*) and Taylor unbeaten at the end. 

Earlier in the day, van Niekerk’s value with the ball came to the fore as Stars completely choked Thunder’s batting line up. The leg-spinner picked up three crucial wicket to finish with figures of 3 for 20 in her spell of four overs. She first removed Dunkley in her first over of the day, and then inflicted a double strike in the 17th over— dismissing Ecclestone and Ellie Threlkeld— to push Thunder further on to the back foot.

The day began poorly for the visitors when Marizanne Kapp castled Luus in the second over of the day. The fast bowler, who had bowled almost the perfect outswinger to square Luus up with her second delivery of the day, pushed the next one slightly fuller and watched as the ball opened up the right-hander and castled into off stump. It was the perfect start for one of the world’s leading bowlers. Kapp’s rhythm was so good that Sciver chose to bowl her out in one spell. The Thunder batters were all at sea, struggling to lay bat on ball as she swerved it away and sometimes got the ball to cut back in sharply. It was a master class of swing bowling. Kapp only conceded 14 runs in her four overs.

Just as they did in the previous game, Tahlia McGrath and Georgie Boyce showed some resistance at the top of the order, but just when they were ready to build the innings Boyce fell for 12 to Mady Villiers. At the end of the power play, Thunder had squeaked for 33 for 2, with Dunkley fresh at the crease.

It was at that point that the hosts began to tighten the screws. The introduction of van Niekerk saw Thunder reduced to 37 for four inside the first nine overs, before Harmanpreet Kaur buckled down and stitched together a crucial 37-run stand with Lamb. The fifth wicket partnership for Thunder was what helped set a base for the onslaught that would come at the back end.

Just when it looked like Thunder would barely manage to pass the 100-run mark, Kaur put her foot on the accelerator and showcased a wide range of strokes. She smashed three sixes and six fours on her way to an unbeaten 58. The right-hander was at her aggressive best through the last four overs of Thunder’s innings, slog sweeping Marsh, dancing down the track to van Niekerk and playing a brutally elegant inside-out lofted stroke over long off to Sciver. It was a typical Kaur innings— start slow, consolidate and play some glorious shots at the back end— that lifted Thunder to a total of 120 for 7. She clobbered Sciver’s final over for 20 runs to give her team something to bowl at.

In the end, Stars proved to be far too strong for Thunder, as they steamrolled their way to another convincing win.

Brief Scores: Lancashire Thunder 120/7 in 20 overs (Harmanpreet Kaur 58*; Dane van Niekerk 3-20) lost to Surrey Stars 124/2 in 14.2 overs (Lizelle Lee 66, Sarah Taylor 36*) by eight wickets.