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.