Lydia Greenway (L) with Heather Knight (C) of Western Storm and Kate Cross (R) of Lancashire Thunder. © Getty Images

Match Preview: Lancashire Thunder vs Western Storm

Date: August 18, 2019

Venue: Boughton Hall Cricket Club Ground, Chester

In the era of social media, often the criteria is conveying a story or a message in as few words as possible. What conveys Western Storm’s domination in just five words is this: five games, five comprehensive wins.

Often teams’ performances can be gauged on the basis of the number of players who do well. A glance at the top performances in this season of the Women’s Cricket Super League (WCSL) would reveal names like Heather Knight, Smriti Mandhana, Clare Nicholas, Freya Davies and Rachel Priest. What is striking is the presence of both batters as well as bowlers in the list. Team effort… Unless something dramatic happens, it hard to see them lose their next game.

Storm take on Lancashire Thunder in their second clash this season – the 15th game of the WCSL – in Chester on Sunday (August 18).

Thunder, meanwhile are languishing at the bottom, with four losses to their name in the five games played. A thrilling tie that they secured against Southern Vipers in their previous outing would act as a solace. Emma Lamb is joint-second in the list of top wicket-takers in this edition with seven scalps – three in the last game – to her name. Her captain Kate Cross has five.

Quite clearly, batting is Thunder’s Achilles heel, with only Harmanpreet Kaur – with 160 runs – featuring in the top ten run-scorers’ list. Looking at the batting might of Storm, Thunder will have to buck up quickly in order for the game to bear a sense of competitiveness. Given that they have already had a close-up look of what Storm have to offer – Storm’s middle order rescued them in a stiff run-chase in their previous clash – expect the strategies to be tweaked accordingly.

Yet again the Indian T20I captain and vice-captain will be in opposite dugouts with a promising Indian all-rounder giving company to the latter. The question remains, will Cross manage to help Thunder eke out a win over Storm in their (possibly) final clash in the history of the WCSL – it is currently 5-0 in Storm’s favour.

 

Key Players:

Emma Lamb

Lamb has seven wickets in the five games that Thunder have played in this season so far. Her consistency has been what has stood out. In the One Day Cup that was played earlier this year, she was the joint-leading wicket-taker along with Kate Cross with eight scalps to her name. In a way, she has carried her wicket-taking form into this tournament.

With the bat too, Lamb has been consistently making her presence felt. She has got starts yet hasn’t got a substantial score. And again, the good form with the bat is something that she has carried from the One Day Cup, where she scored the second-most runs for Lancashire. For a team that is lacking largely in the batting department, Lamb’s presence is a confidence-booster for the team as well as for herself, with runs under her belt.

 

Sophie Luff

“You just take it as another game of cricket and you don’t really think too much about it, you just play the situation.” This is what Luff had said in an interview earlier this month – play the situation. That is what she has done often in this season for Storm. While the Mandhanas, Priests and Knights have gone about with their stuff, Luff has quietly been the support that the team needs.

She doesn’t have big runs to show – that is probably the job of Storm’s top order, which has happened- but her strike rate in excess of 130 says that she has come in and chipped in with handy runs that have always assisted the side. Once again, she will be the key in case the players at the top collectively have an off day. She has the runs to back her form – Luff was Somerset’s leading run-scorer in the One Day Cup. Although she’d hope the top order delivers the goods yet again, she would be more than ready to step up in case need be.

 

Conditions:

Largely cloudy weather is expected to welcome both the teams in Chester, as the temperature is expected to hover around the 20-degree mark. Around United Kingdom, rain is making its presence felt as it did to wash away a number of T20 Blast games apart from causing stoppages in the men’s Ashes Test at Lord’s. In Chester, there are 50% chances of rain on Sunday (August 18). This is the first WCSL match at this venue.

 

Squads:

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

Western Storm: Heather Knight (c), Anya Shrubsole, Fran Wilson, Freya Davies, Dani Gibson, Ellie Mitchell, Claire Nicholas, Sophie Luff, Naomi Dattani, Amara Carr, Sonia Odedra, Alex Griffiths, Smriti Mandhana, Rachel Priest, Deepti Sharma.

 

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