A sweep and a swipe threatened to undo all the good work by Western Storm’s top order at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Sunday (August 11). Opener Smriti Mandhana’s attempted sweep, that took her top edge to settle in short fine leg’s hands, and a swipe across the line by Fran Wilson at the doorstep of victory— castled by Suzie Bates— will be two moments that Storm would have a long chat about.
However, in the end these mistakes were cheaper and of lesser value than the runs put on by Storm’s numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5, which enabled them to upstage Southern Vipers by three wickets with a ball to spare in the eighth match of the final edition of the Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL).
Mandhana wowed one and all with her delectable drives— her placement is what stood out in this knock. She patiently batted with Heather Knight, who carried her wonderful from the last game. Together the duo added 71 for the second wicket off just 58 balls. Knight was happy to be the dominant partner, while the Indian T20I vice-captain played second fiddle.
Tash Farrant is a trier. She began bowling from over the wicket and then willingly changed angles to cause discomfort to the batters. Her effort bore fruit when she dismissed Mandhana for a 25-ball 30. A couple of deliveries later, she sent back Knight (38) as well. Suddenly, it seemed a batting collapse was imminent.
Fran Wilson, who was the Player of the Match in Storm’s previous game, then got together with Sophie Luff. When the pair was batting, it appeared like no further wickets would fall. Their alliance lasted all of 58 runs and 43 balls.
… Eight runs were needed off 12 balls…
With the match all but sealed in Storm’s favour, Farrant made an appearance again. Luff tried to work her to the on-side but ended up getting a leading edge towards mid-off. She fell for a useful 24 off 20 deliveries. However, Wilson was there, so Storm still had the upper hand…
Farrant managed to make life difficult for her – tucking her up and refusing to give her room to swing. There were suddenly a string of dot balls. The pressure showed when Wilson, in an attempt to steal a single, got Deepti Sharma run out off the final ball of the left-armer’s spell. Farrant finished with figures of 4-0-23-3— evidence of how good she was on the day.
With a single run to defend (two were needed for a Storm win), Bates ran in and trapped Wilson in front on 40. The right-arm seamer had been bowling well throughout the game, managing to hold her own even with Mandhana and Knight were going strong. Now, here she was, getting a go at the lower-order batters. Wilson’s dismissal was followed by that of Anya Shrubsole— castled by Bates a ball later. As jitters ran through the visitor’s dug out, and Bates attempted to keep the legend of the impenetrable ‘Snake Pit’ alive, Naomi Dattani and Storm debutante, Sonia Odedra, held their nerve and found two singles to seal the deal. Storm had squeaked through to their target of 143 in 19.5 overs, with three balls to spare— thus handing Vipers their first defeat of the season.
Having won the toss and chosen to bat, Vipers lost Danielle Wyatt as early as the second ball of the match. Tammy Beaumont then got together with Bates to resurrect the innings. The pair added 66 runs in 64 balls for the second wicket and it seems that the hosts were primed for blast off.
Beaumont had just struck a six in the 11th over off Shrubsole, and in an attempt to repeat the shot, she holed out to Dattani at deep square leg. She had taken 35 balls for her 37, including three fours and two sixes.
The captain’s dismissal was then followed by a phase where Vipers lost 24 for 3 in four overs. That included Bates’ wicket too, where she failed to dispatch a half-tracker from Knight, finding Dattani again, this time in the ring. The Kiwi had made an ungainly 38-ball 33 with just two hits to the fence.
Stafanie Taylor, meanwhile, had effectively assessed the pace of the pitch and found her rhythm. She combined with Maia Bouchier to add 48 runs in just 30 balls. Their association took Vipers to a competitive total of 142 for 5, courtesy Taylor’s unbeaten 28-ball 44, a knock that included seven boundaries.
Just like in the previous game, Claire Nicholas was the pick of the bowlers on Sunday with 2 for 29 to her name. Knight also chipped in picking up 1 for 22. For a change, Sharma, failed to pick up any wickets with her off-spin.
Brief Scores: Southern Vipers 142/5 in 20 overs (Stafanie Taylor 44*, Tammy Beaumont 37; Claire Nicholas 2-29) lost to Western Storm 143/7 in 19.5 overs (Fran Wilson 40, Heather Knight 38; Tash Farrant 3-23) by three wickets.