It was an odd sort of game at Old Trafford. Loughborough Lightning shocked Lancashire Thunder to win a game in which after the first power play, Thunder looked the only winner, but Lightning fought back and fought back hard. They won by 35 runs as the rain ended the contest in the fourteenth over on Tuesday (August 20). Lancashire Thunder became the first side to be officially out of contention for a place in finals day, as Lightning moved up to second place thanks to a bonus point win.
Lightning recovered from a disastrous power play which left them at 18 for 3. The experienced trio of Hayley Matthews, Amy Jones and Chamari Atapattu struggled to get the runs flowing as Thunder bowled tight lines.
Everything early on was on the stumps apart from the fifth ball of Emma Lamb’s first over that Matthews dispatched to the cover-point boundary.
Jones fell in the next over looking to work Kate Cross through the leg side and was trapped in front for a third ball duck. Matthews was gone six balls later as Sophie Ecclestone was brought into the attack and Ria Fackrell took the catch at cover as Matthews ten ball struggle came to an end.
The third wicket of the powerplay fell when Atapattu became the second of Ecclestone’s three victims. Atapattu miscued a sweep to Tahlia McGrath and the Sri Lankan was taking the long walk back for another disappointing knock.
Bizarrely as soon as the powerplay restrictions were lifted so was the burden on Lightning batters. The first fifty runs of the innings took 54 balls. As in previous games, it was up to Mignon du Preez to get the scoreboard moving and with her second ball, she launched Alex Hartley for six.
At that point, Lightning would have taken 120 and hoped that it was enough for their bowlers to defend. However, the pair of du Preez and Georgia Elwiss started to score at ‘lightning pace.’ The score at the end of the ninth over was 50 for 3… 37 balls later the hundred was up.
In that time Lightning had lost the wickets of Elwiss and du Preez. It put an end of a fine run of form for du Preez who had not been dismissed in her previous two innings was finally beaten on Wednesday.
Lamb had been bowling tightly and du Preez was determined to put her off her stride. It did not work as du Preez seeing there was no one behind square on the leg side shuffled across her stumps and was bowled trying to sweep too fine. It put an end to an industrious innings of 18 from ten balls.
Elwiss fell in the next over. When the more sensible option was to bat out the final ball of the over, she looked for the boundary option and McGrath took her second catch of the match.
It left Lightning with two new batters at the crease in Georgia Adamas and Kathryn Bryce. That did not phase either batter. They picked up the momentum and shared a partnership of 82 for the sixth wicket from just 45 balls.
Adams has started to grow in her role this season. The game against Surrey Stars showed what she is capable of. Today she scored her first Women’s Cricket Super League half-century. Adams was at her brutal against the spinners – hitting Alex Hartley out of the attack. She followed a four with a six from the first two balls of the sixteenth over.
It wasn’t until the final over that Adams brought up her fifty but was run out the same ball. Bryce also fell in that over bowled by Ecclestone who finished with figures of 3 for 17. Lightning was somehow able to finish on 157 for 7. They never looked back from there.
The equation was simple for Thunder who chose to bowl first. There was rain in the forecast and wanted to keep an eye on the DLS calculations.
It didn’t quite work that way. Tahlia McGrath briefly threatened as she put the foot down in the fifth over to cart Bryce all over Old Trafford taking 15 runs off the over.
However, in the next over she was gone and so was Sophia Dunkley. Both went to outstanding pieces of fielding. McGrath hit a full toss in the direction of Atapattu at mid-off – instinctively she put her hand above her head more in hope than expectation and it stuck. McGrath was on 26 at the time.
Dunkley also went to a sharp catch. It was hit back with some force and Matthews did well not to move out of the way of it.
Sune Luus was still there and she was joined by Harmanpreet Kaur. Thunder needed to make the partnership count. Luus was doing her best finding the boundary. While not with the frequency needed, it was enough to keep the score moving.
Kaur was just about to move through the gears when she found Matthews in cow corner. The fielder did not have to move as the ball took an age to reach her off the bowling off Elwiss.
As she has done so in the past Thunder were looking for Lamb to swing the willow and drag Thunder back in the game. She, however, was bowled second ball by Kirstie Gordon.
It was again Gordon who was in the wickets as she got rid of the dangerous Luus caught at square-leg by du Preez. The pressure had got to the South African who’s strike rate had fallen below 100.00. Ecclestone was only around for one ball as the rain started to come down at a steady pace and when she was caught by Atapattu the players followed her back. They weren’t to be seen again.
Lightning thus sealed what was an unlikley, but rather convincing 35-run win and rose to second on the points table on the back of another bonus point win.
Brief Scores: Loughborough Lightning 157/7 in 20 overs (Georgia Adams 50, Georgia Elwiss 38; Sophie Ecclestone 3-17, Kate Cross 2-23) beat Lancashire Thunder 74/6 in 13.4 overs (Sune Luus 30, Tahlia McGrath 26; Kirstie Gordon 3-18, Hayley Matthews 2-1) by 35 runs (DLS method).