A century stand between Lizelle Lee, who hit 72 off 44 balls, and Marizanne Kapp was the foundation for a 52 run victory for Surrey Stars over the Western Storm.
On an overcast afternoon in south London, Western Storm won the toss and chose to bowl in front of a small crowd at The Oval.
Claire Nicholas got the Storm off to the perfect start, dismissing Tammy Beaumont LBW off the very first ball of the innings – Nicholas going for just 2 runs in the two powerplay overs she bowled.
With Nicholas proving tough to get away, Marizanne Kapp and Lizelle Lee had to make the most of their opportunities elsewhere – Freya Davies suffering as she went for 20 off her first two overs, with the Stars finishing the powerplay at 32-1.
Lee and Kapp then really went on the attack in the post-powerplay overs – Huddleston going for 15 off one over; replaced by Davies who went for 8 off another. Stafanie Taylor bowled her first over for just 3, but was then thrashed for 16 by Lee in her next, Lee reaching her 50 off 38 balls in the 10th over.
It was Heather Knight who finally made the breakthrough, but it was an expensive one – Lee hitting the England captain for three 6s in an over which went for 19, before she cut the last ball of the over straight into the hands of Claire Nicholas at cover, having made 72 off 44 balls.
With Kapp continuing to play more of an anchor role, it was Nat Sciver’s turn to get stuck in to the feast, hitting Davies for three consecutive 4s as she raced to 30 off 18 balls before being caught by Georgia Hennessy at long on.
Claire Nicholas took a wicket off the first ball of the final over, as she had done the first – Kapp stumped by Rachel Priest for 48, as Nicholas finished with figures of 3-20, with the Stars closing on an intimidating 169-6, thanks mainly to those big middle overs from Lee.
The Storm made a positive start in reply, reaching 26-0 off the first two overs, before Marizanne Kapp took two wickets in two balls in the third over – Heather Knight (11) and Fran Wilson (0) both LBW.
Stafanie Taylor lasted just 6 balls for 4 runs, before trying to hoist Nat Sciver up and over cover, but getting a lot more “up” than “over”, with Laura Marsh taking a good catch on the ring as the ball swirled in The Oval sky.
Bryony Smith then took a fine, dipping eye-level catch on the midwicket boundary to dismiss Rachel Priest for 17, as the Storm finished the powerplay on 44-4 – more or less up with the rate, but for the loss of a lot more wickets that they would ideally have liked!
Lizelle Lee took a cracking (and painful) low catch at cover to get rid of Sophie Luff off Alex Hartley, leaving Georgia Hennessy and Lissy Macleod with the job of rebuilding – no easy task with the tail looming behind them and the required rate already well over 10 per over.
An Alex Hartley over which went for 13 offered a glimmer of hope for the Storm, with Macleod and Hennessy progressing at a good strike rate. Hennessy survived being caught off a no ball but her luck ran out at the end of the 15th over, as she skied Laura Marsh to Nat Sciver at midwicket for 28.
Macleod followed shortly afterwards, bowled playing all around Alex Hartley for 30; whilst Anya Shrubsole was out tamely later that same over, pushing the ball straight to Laura Marsh at extra cover.
There was really no way back from there for the Storm. With the rate now over 20, Freya Davies decided she might as well go down with her guns blazing, hitting big but finding Lizelle Lee in the deep; leaving Holly Huddleston and Claire Nicholas to try to see out the game, which they just failed to do – Huddleston caught by Rene Farrell in the final over, as Nat Sciver finished with 3-11, with the Storm bowled out for 117 with 3 balls remaining, giving the Stars the bonus point win by 52 runs.
Afterwards, Player of the Match Lizelle Lee spoke to CRICKETher:
“Yesterday in the nets I hit a few very good balls, so I was pretty excited; but also very nervous batting against by old team. When I came in a struggled a little bit, but Kappie [Marizanne Kapp] said to me to stay calm – she knows my game and she knows that I can make up in the end and I have to give credit to her for keeping me calm – I just waited for the bad ball to find the middle of the bat.”
“This is my first game at The Oval, and and I’m loving it – you get credit for your shots here! The team is amazing and the girls are so lovely and come together so nicely and I think that shows on the pitch.”
The result confirms that the Stars will make Finals Day, after missing out last year; whilst the Vipers victory over the Thunder means they will also join them; with the final place being decided between the Diamonds, Storm and Lightning on Saturday.