In a game reduced to 13 overs per side, after the match was delayed by an hour and a half due to a torrential downpour at Loughborough just before the scheduled start time, Yorkshire Diamonds came out on top thanks to a superb all-round performance by their overseas Chamari Atapattu.
After two losses leading up to this fixture, the Lightning nevertheless opted to go unchanged; whilst Yorkshire were able to bring back Jenny Gunn for Katie Thompson.
Batting first after being put in, the Diamonds got off to a good start as Chamari Atapattu and Lauren Winfield raced to 25, before Winfield was caught on the square boundary by Beth Langston off Sonia Odedra.
This brought Sophie Devine to the crease, who struggled as she looked to drive, but couldn’t get past mid on/ mid off, and was eventually bowled for 2 off 9 balls, missing a straight one from Georgia Elwiss.
Meanwhile Atapattu continued to play classily all around the wicket, including a couple of big sixes down the ground. She got a little nervous in the 40s – she was dropped by Langston on 47 off Perry, and then managed to run out Katherine Brunt when she was on 49, as she bunted Kristen Beams into the on side and called for the run but only ended up running out Brunt, who had been looking good for a rapid 21.
With the overs closing in, Alice Davidson-Richards tried to play a bit too expansively early-doors to Beams and was bowled for 1 off two balls. Jenny Gunn lasted just one ball longer – hanging out her bat to try to run Beth Langston down to third man, she ended up bowled in a rather sheepish fashion by her England colleague.
But Atapattu continued to push calmly on, eventually finishing on to 66 not out off 40 balls, with nine 4s and two 6s, as Yorkshire closed on 110-5.
The Lightning reply began with a stutter, as Katherine Brunt bowled Amy Jones off the last ball of the first over for 2 with the total on 2; but 11 runs off the second over from Davidson Richards got things going for the Lightning.
However, Brunt struck again with her very next ball at the start of the third over – Ellyse Perry unimpressed to be given out LBW, though the analyst cam in the press box suggested it was good decision. Georgia Elwiss saw off the hat trick ball but there was just 1 off the over from there and the ball was back in the Diamond’s court once again.
Atapattu bowled Elyse Villani with her first ball – a slow, languid delivery which Villani found herself on to too quickly; and Sophie Devine soon joined the party, tempting Thea Brookes into a big shot which only found Lauren Winfield at deep mid off, leaving the Lighting in some trouble at 31-4.
Elwiss finally took the fight back to the Diamonds, hitting 16 off the 10th over bowled by Jenny Gunn; but with Lightning needing another big over, Katie Levick held her nerve, going for just 7 despite some big swooshes, and there was no way back for the Lightning from there, especially when they lost Elwiss for 41, well caught by Maddie Walsh off Atapattu – the Sri Lankan finishing with 2-11 as the Diamonds closed well short on 93-5.
Afterwards Sophie Devine was full of praise for Chamari Atapattu:
“She has been fantastic – to think that she only got brought in last minute – to do the job she has done is a credit to her – we all knew how well she played in the World Cup, and she’s just continued that on. Her strength is to play in the ‘V’ and to play straight, and she showed that today – it doesn’t matter who the bowler is or what the field is – if she backs herself she’ll be able to execute.”
The result puts the Diamonds back on course for Finals Day, but leaves the Lightning all-but out of it now, with 3 losses.
With 66* off 40 balls Atapattu had the 3rd highest strike rate (165.0) for a 50+ run KSL score, behind Sciver’s 90* off 45 (SR 200.0) v Storm last year and Bates’ 119* off 72 (SR 165.27) v Lightning on Tuesday.
Diamonds’ run rate (8.46 RPO) was the 2nd highest for a KSL innings behind Vipers’ 9.00 RPO vs Lightning on Tuesday.
In 2016 Diamonds hit three sixes all season, the 2nd lowest just ahead of Thunder’s two. They’re currently topping the charts with eleven in 2017.
Diamonds hit the lowest percentage of boundary balls (11.39%) last year. This year they’re hitting the 2nd highest (16.40% behind Vipers’ 19.54%)
Lightning really feeling the loss of Devine and Van Niekerk from last season. That was always going to put a lot of weight on Perry’s shoulders and unfortunately she’s scored 36 runs in 3 innings and yet to take a wicket. Beams has the 7th best ER (4.86 RPO) in the competition but the problem for lightning is their next most economical bowler is Perry at 6.86 RPO.
Elwiss (with 32, and 41) is the only Lightning player to have made a score over 30 in KSL 2017.
In 2016 Lightning collectively had the 2nd most expensive bowling attack (7.04 RPO) but had the 2nd highest batting run rate (7.02).
This year their bowling ER is even worse (a rock bottom 7.65 RPO) and their batting RR has dropped to 6.32 RPO.
Sorry, Beams ER should read 4.63.
I’m not sure that specifically the loss of Devine has done much to affect either Diamonds or Lightning as she hasn’t performed as well as she could for either side.
The main difference for me has been a dip in form for the big players like Perry and Grundy. Grundy is being targeted by opposition batsmen and letting it affect her bowling, and for me Perry is more suited to the 50 over format anyway, her class tells more over the longer version of the game. Plus the balance of the team is wrong, they have too many medium pace bowlers and not enough spinners, hence Higham being used so much, although she hasn’t actually done that badly. It’s obvious Elwiss doesn’t know who best to turn to, and you can’t blame her – Lightning seem to use 6 or even 7 bowlers in every game, more than the top team like Vipers or Stars. However most of the changes don’t work as well as required as they are leaking too many runs.
I thought Lightning were always destined to struggle a bit this season as their England players hadn’t seen much action and the squad hadn’t been developed like some of the other sides. But they have been a bit worse than I expected. They may want to look at their England/overseas selections next year and see if anything can be done to shake things up a bit.
It’s a combination of the bowling not being consistent enough but more the batting – they’re losing too many wickets and need to give themselves more of a chance. Also not convinced the batting order is right. But I’d still like to see them pick up a win or two yet.
Meanwhile Diamonds are keeping themselves in the mix, they are certainly capable of some strong performances. I thought Attapattu might do OK, but she’s been excellent so far.
Devine’s never going to be consistent but she can win a game on her own if she comes off. Her half century for the Lightning was the difference between the sides in this fixture last year.
Agree the balance of the Lightning’s side is all wrong. I think Perry should probably open, as she does for the Sixers and let the other players bat around her.
Speaking of the Sixers, I think the Lightning may have been better served if they’d gone for Ash Gardner as one of their overseas. She’s arguably as good a batsman as Villani and would have given them a quality spin option.
The Lightning lost the 2nd most wickets per innings (8.33) last season as well but mostly managed to plough through that and maintain their run rate.
Brunt was effusive in her praise of Atapattu, specifically her attitude in training, on TMS after the Diamonds opening fixture.
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