Date: 15 August 2019
Venue: Woodbridge Road, Guildford
It is one week into the 2019 edition of the Women's Cricket Super League (WCSL) and the lower-rung teams like Lancashire Thunder, Yorkshire Diamonds and Loughborough Lightning can still bounce back from their poor starts. Peaking at the right time plays a pivotal role in a long tournament like WCSL. It would also keep the audience intrigued and engaged as to which teams will make it to Finals Day. For that to happen the lower-half teams have to step up.
Surrey Stars belong to the top half and look set to defend their title in the last edition of WCSL. After rain washed out their previous encounter against Vipers they are back in Guildford to face Lightning on Thursday (15 August). Stars have looked solid in their two games so far. Their game against Thunder was an example of the their reliance on team effort than individual brilliances.
The only major worry for them will be the form of Bryony Smith at the top, who has failed to get going with scores of 4 and 20. Apart from that, they would ideally be a happy bunch for now. Spinners have played their role superbly in the middle phase with each one of the trio - Laura Marsh, Dane van Niekerk and Mady Villiers chipping away at the wickets and not allowing the opposition to free their arms. Marizanne Kapp and Natalie Sciver, too, have bowled according to plan.
On the batting front, skipper Sciver would be pleased with the performance of Sarah Taylor, who is back to run-making ways. Lizelle Lee again showed why she is regarded as one of the most destructive players in the world with her brute batting. All in all, Stars are on course to keep their winning momentum going.
Standing in their way are Lightning, who after their first win against Diamonds, fell to losing ways again versus Storm. Their losses have one common factor - batting failures. Even on Tuesday (August 13) against Storm, they failed to adapt to the change in pace by the Storm bowlers on a track that was constantly slowing down. They found a way to capitulate and hand over an easy victory by 34 runs to Storm, chasing a target of 159.
The dependency on Amy Jones, Hayley Matthews and Georgia Elwiss is far too much - if either of them fails, the rest fall off the radar quickly. Mignon du Preez has looked good in patches, but has not done enough to contribute to a win.
The bowling looks decent - they have not allowed the opposition to post a big total on the board. Jenny Gunn, the trier and a workhorse, has looked sharp in all the matches so far with ample support from Matthews, Kathryn Bryce, Elwiss and Sarah Glenn. The worry for Lightning, though, is both the departments have not clicked together and that has cost them matches.
The head-to-head record between these two teams is 3-2 in favour of Lightning. The last two matches are where Stars beat them rather comfortably - one of them being the finals of 2018, where they came across a rampaging Lee. Indeed Lee loves playing against Lightning as her scores in the last two matches against the girls in purple read 104 and 48.
The delicate dab, sweeps, cover drives and cut shots were all on display in the two matches played so far by Taylor. Scores of 43 and an unbeaten 36 in fairly easy run-chase against Thunder has brought Taylor amongst the runs. After a dismal Ashes series, Taylor has come back in some style. The break from the T20Is against Australia has surely helped rejuvenate her. Sciver would hope Taylor's good form continues in the rest of tournament as it would allow the big hitters later to flourish.
Matthews' importance was felt in the match against Storm on Tuesday (August 13), when chasing 159 she fell for just two to give Storm an easy passage to victory. Matthews not just adds value with the bat but also with the ball chipping away with useful wickets. She struck a belligerent 54 off just 39 balls against Diamonds, where she remained unconquered, to take her team home with 40 balls to spare in a chase of 122. She also picked a wicket - the all-important wicket of Alyssa Healy. The failure in the last match should be reason enough to deliver against Stars and show the way to the rest of her teammates.
The last time when Stars played in Guildford, they romped home in style against Thunder with eight wickets in hand. Therefore chasing would be the preferred option.
The temperature will hover in the range of 20 to 22 degree celsius and the chances of rain are pretty less.
Surrey Stars: Natalie Sciver (captain), Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor, Bryony Smith, Amy Gordon, Mady Villiers, Aylish Cranstone, Gwenan Davies, Grace Gibbs, Eva Grey, Hannah Jones, Rhianna Southby, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelee Lee, Dane van Niekerk
Loughborough Lightning: Georgia Elwiss (captain), Amy Jones (wk), Jenny Gunn, Kirstie Gordon, Abbey Freeborn, Lucy Higham, Tara Norris, Alice Monaghan, Kathryn Bryce, Georgia Adams, Sarah Glenn, Jo Gardner, Mignon du Preez, Hayley Matthews, Chamari Atapattu.