The Loughborough Lightning cantered to a bonus-point win over the Western Storm, writes ANITHA MADIKIZELA.
What promised to be a titanic battle between the top two teams in the league proved to be a one-sided affair as the Loughborough Lightning crushed the Western Storm by nine wickets in under 13 overs.
After losing the toss and being inserted into bat, nothing went right for the Storm as they only managed to post 124 runs off their 20 overs. The innings never seemed to pick up momentum and the batters struggled to get the ball away.
Smriti Mandhana (29 off 27 balls) and Heather Knight (22 off 15 balls) were the top scorers in the innings, but both were dismissed by the left-arm spin of Kirstie Gordon off consecutive balls. Gordon’s hat-trick ball was a disappointing full toss that Fran Wilson dealt with easily.
With their middle order being tested for the first time this season, the pressure proved too much to handle and wickets fell regularly throughout a disappointing innings from the team that had started the day in the top spot on the log. In contrast, the Lightning innings roared out of the blocks as they posted 58 in the first six overs without the loss of a wicket.
With all 10 wickets still in the bag – and needing just 67 runs at less than a run a ball – Rachael Haynes and Sophie Devine eyed a bonus-point win and went on the attack. They shared a 90-run opening stand as they smashed 14 fours and three sixes between them. Devine (38 off 30 balls) took advantage of being dropped early in her innings before falling to a catch at mid-wicket.
The star of the show was Haynes (66 not out off 40 balls, with 10 fours and one six) as she raced to a half-century off just 31 deliveries and earned herself the Player of the Match award. With that thumping, the Lightning leapfrogged the Storm on the table to be in pole position and snatch that automatic place in the Super League Final.
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