Stafanie Taylor has been a big player for Vipers this season. © Southern Vipers/ Twitter

Match Preview: Southern Vipers vs Lancashire Thunder

Date: 15 August 2019

Venue: Rose Bowl, Southampton

“It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward,” goes the famous line from the film Rocky Balboa.

Lancashire Thunder are down in the dumps. They have played four games, and have lost four games. They have taken hit, after hit, after hit. To their credit though, they have gotten up each time and competed. Like Rocky, they have kept moving forward.

Their last loss came in a nerve-wracking final over thriller against Yorskhire Diamonds. At the halfway stage, they had no right to get that close, but Emma Lamb played a gem of an innings at the back-end to give Thunder hope. The equation went down to 14 required off the final 12 balls. They could have won it. They probably should have… But maybe they had finally taken a hit they couldn’t recover from?

The atmosphere in Southern Vipers, on the other hand, is pretty much hunky dory. They have won two of their last four games, with their previous match against Surrey Stars having been washed out. They now sit pretty – third on the table with 11 points under their belt. Another couple of wins could see them seal their place in Finals Day.

When the two teams go up against each other at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on Thursday (August 15), it is Vipers who will be the clear favourites. Despite the loss against Western Storm in their third match of the 2019 Women’s Cricket Super League, Vipers will be confident of overcoming Thunder for the second time this season.

Vipers’ batters have all been amongst the runs this season— making useful contributions in every game. While Danielle Wyatt started the tournament with the bang, scoring her maiden WCSL half-century against Thunder in the opening game, her form has since fizzled out. Stafanie Taylor and Tammy Beaumont have been their standout batters so far, but one feels that after her 38-ball 33 and two wickets that Suzie Bates got against Storm, it could kick-start a more dominant period for her.

With the odds heavily stacked against them, Thunder will have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and try to keep moving forward. On two occasions, they have found themselves at the doorstep of victory, and in both games they squandered that chance.

Their group of internationals, though young, will have to use all their experience, and find a way to inspire the team to pull off something special. Otherwise it is likely that Vipers will run away with the game.

 

Key Players:

Stafanie Taylor

Having switched teams this season, Stafanie Taylor has made a tremendous start to the WCSL, scoring 122 runs in her three innings so far, at an average of 61 and strike rate of 148.78. Taylor has largely flown under the radar, while her more illustrious, big-hitting teammates have enjoyed the limelight. Coming in to bat at no.5, the right-hander has compiled scores of 40 (also against Thunder), 38 and 44 not out. In the previous match against Western Storm, with her team floundering at 71 for 2 in 12 overs, she hit her stride immediately, finding the boundary at regular intervals and keeping the scoreboard ticking to lift Southern Vipers to a total of 140— something that looked far off at the half-way stage. Taylor herself, had motored to 28 off 40 balls.

With truck loads of experience under her belt, Taylor has been one of Vipers’ best acquisitions this season. Her unquestioned talent with the bat coupled with her handy ability with the ball— often the one with the ‘golden arm’—lends a great deal of balance to the Vipers’ line up. She will be hoping that she can maintain this consistency with the bat while also chipping in a bit more with the bat. Her contributions will be crucial to help Vipers get back to winning ways.

 

Harmanpreet Kaur

Kaur is undoubtedly one of the most dangerous and destructive batters on the international circuit. Her ability to change gears and send the ball sailing over the boundary is something that makes her ‘hot property’ in these domestic T20 leagues. After a failure in Thunder’s first game, Kaur put on a master-class against Surrey Stars. Quite typically she started slowly, knocked the ball around, and then exploded at the back end of the innings. Kaur showed glimpses of that form in Thunder’s previous game against Diamonds as well. She was dismissed just when it appeared she was ready to shift gears.

With the rest of the batting line-up largely struggling, Kaur’s output with the bat will be crucial to Thunder’s chances of making a dent in this tournament. She is the third highest run-getter this season with 126 runs in four innings. However, both Kaur and her team will be hoping her next contribution will result in a win— something they dearly crave.

 

Conditions:

The ‘Snake Pit’ as it is known to Vipers fans, is a happy hunting ground for the home team— they have won six out of nine games played there. Although Storm overpowered them in the previous game, Vipers did put up a fight to the very end, almost pulling off an improbable win in the final over— they certainly went down biting!

While the pitch in Southampton is often favourble to the batters, in the previous match, Storm’s bowlers showed that change of pace and cross seam deliveries can often trouble the batters or slow the rate of scoring. The likes of Tash Farrant of Vipers and Cross of Thunder could use this to their advantage.

Overnight rain may leave something in the pitch for the bowlers, however, with a bright and sunny day expected on Thursday, any moisture is likely to dry out by the evening.

 

Squads:

Southern Vipers: Tammy Beaumont (c), Danielle Wyatt, Charlie Dean, Lauren Bell, Tash Farrant, Maia Bouchier, Carla Rudd, Paige Scholfield, Thea Brookes, Marie Kelly, Issy Wong, Fi Morris, Suzie Bates, Stafanie Taylor, Amanda Wellington.

Lancashire Thunder: Kate Cross (c), Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone, Sophie Dunkley, Georgie Boyce, Emma Lamb, Natalie Brown, Danielle Collins, Alice Dyson, Ria Fackrell, Ellie Threlkeld, Eve Jones, Harmanpreet Kaur, Sune Luus, Tahlia McGrath.

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