Deepti Sharma will be key as storm look to stay unbeaten. ©Getty Images

Match Preview: Surrey Stars vs Western Storm

Date: 25 August 2019

Venue: Woodbridge Road, Guildford

What does one do when all hope is lost? In cricket, the cliched answer comes swiftly— ‘Play for pride’.

After making a tremendous start to their campaign with back-to-back win against Yorkshire Diamonds and Lancashire Thunder, Surrey Stars’ run came to a crashing halt. A washed out game three, and suddenly the momentum had shifted. Eight games into their tournament, and Stars haven’t been able to find another win. The defending champions have thus slipped to fifth place and are effectively out of the tournament. All they can do now, it seems, is play for pride!

On Sunday (August 25), in their penultimate game of the season, Stars face a team that are at the other end of the spectrum. Having won all of their games, Western Storm sit pretty at the top of the table on 34 points. They have been run close on four occasions, but each time, have managed to sneak their way to a win.

Their last close game was their previous match against Stars in Taunton. Sarah Taylor’s masterful half-century and her 43-run partnership with Marizanne Kapp took Stars to the brink of a win before Freya Davies and Deepti Sharma’s decisive blows gave Storm the upper hand.

While Stars can only hope for a fourth place finish, at best, what they can look to do is hand Storm their first defeat of the season— something that could potentially derail their, so far, flawless campaign.

As Gulbadin Naib, former Afghanistan captain, said during the recent World Cup: “Hum toh dube hai sanam, tujhe bhi leke dubenge.”  (We have drowned ourselves, and we will make sure you drown too).

Although it looks an unlikely result, there is no doubt Stars will want to end their Women’s Cricket Super League journey on a high. With nothing more to lose, they will be able to play with great freedom – something Storm will be wary of.

 

Key Players:

Deepti Sharma

Deepti Sharma was Western Storm’s final overseas signing of the season. She came in as a like-for-like replacement for Stafanie Taylor.

In the tournament so far, she has scored 66 runs at a strike rate of 132, and also taken seven wickets, including a best of 3-18 against Stars. The 22-year-old’s tournament economy rate of 6.30 shows the control she brings to Storm’s attack. She can hold her own in the power play and also enjoys bowling in the back-end of the innings. Sharma has thrived under pressure through the tournament, guiding Storm home in a tight chase against Lancashire Thunder. She finished unbeaten on 23, smashing a boundary off the penultimate delivery to clinch a nail-biting win.

In the previous game against Stars, the left-hander resurrected the innings with a useful 32, before she starred with the ball picking up three wickets. Despite putting in consistent performance, Sharma has flown under the radar. She will, however, continue to be a key performer for Storm leading into finals day.

 

Sarah Taylor

In the midst of several batting collapses, Sarah Taylor has been Stars’ shining light. The right-hander has scored 225 runs in six innings so far at an average of 45 and strike rate of 121.62. Stars’ next best batter, Sciver, has scored 158 runs.

Taylor’s runs tally includes two back-to-back half-centuries, both of which have come in very different circumstances. The first was a wonderful counter-attacking knock in a chase against Storm, and the second, a more conservative innings that helped Stars post a total of 147 for 7 after having been reduced to 28 for 2 in 6 overs.

With the gloves too, Taylor has been a menacing presence behind the stumps— completing five stumpings and two catches. Once again, her contributions will be important if Stars are to make a match out of their encounter against Storm.

 

Conditions:

All three games in Guildford this season have been low-scoring ones— all in the range of 120. On all three occasions, the team chasing has won, quite comfortably as well. Stars have won only one game at the venue this season.

The weather is expected to be fair, with only a 10% chance of rain.

 

Squads:

Surrey Stars: Natalie Sciver (c), Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor, Bryony Smith, Mady Villiers, Amy Gordon, Aylish Cranstone, Gwenan Davies, Grace Gibbs, Eva Gray, Hannah Jones, Rhianna Southby, Marizanne Kapp, Lizelle Lee, Dane van Niekerk.

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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