From Martin Saxon at Old Trafford
Western Storm made it four wins from five by beating Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford, in doing so ending the home side’s own winning run of three matches. The Storm look to have enough in all departments to really challenge for honours once again.
Thunder’s 153-7 may have looked more than respectable on paper, but here the boundaries were ridiculously short, even by recent standards in elite women’s cricket. Coupled with a lightning fast outfield it meant that scoring boundaries was relatively simple, and the total was certainly below par.
Most of the batsmen who had starred in previous Thunder matches failed to fire here. Eve Jones scratched around for four in 14 deliveries, Nicole Bolton hit two boundaries but failed to extend her stay at the crease, Harmanpreet Kaur was suicidally run out after only one delivery and Ellie Threlkeld and Emma Lamb failed to get out of the teens.
The only score of note came from Amy Satterthwaite, who made her second 50 of the tournament, finishing with an unbeaten 85 from 57 deliveries with 11 fours and three sixes.
Claire Nicholas had another good game with the ball, conceding 21 in her four overs, and it was noticeable that most of Storm’s non-international bowlers also kept Thunder’s scoring rate down, with Naomi Dattani and Freya Davies also impressing.
Kate Cross again struck in the first over for the Thunder, removing Rachel Priest, but her second over saw her hit for successive sixes by Smriti Mandhana. Although Stafanie Taylor’s 33 not out provided good support, thereafter it really was the Mandhana show as she reached her century off just 60 deliveries, hitting two further maximums, and finally departed when only two were required.
Much has been made of the successes of the Thunder spin quartet in previous matches, and here Lancashire actually tried six spin options in a vain attempt to break the momentum of the innings. Their only chances came in the 10th over, bowled by Sophie Ecclestone, when Mandhana was dropped twice – neither was straightforward but they were catches you would hope international players would have held on to.
As it was, the Indian’s mighty innings led the way as Storm got home with seven wickets and ten balls in hand.
“The Indian’s mighty innings” it should be! Mandhana – 282 runs in KSL03 at an amazing average, a *T20 average* of 94 (!) and a blistering strike rate too. She is the form player of the moment, and the most impressive batsman in the KSL. None yet have been able to contain her. Lowest score so far is 37, more than a lot of player’s highest! Truly unbelievable performances so far from her. Storm as a whole are really impressive as well, suspected they might be good even without Smriti’s heroics, but wow!
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“Sri Lankan “?
Great match reporting, as always, though.
Mandhana… just wow!
Lanning had better look to her laurels – there’ll soon be a new “best bat in the world” it would seem.
Late-night editing snafu re. Smriti corrected – sorry all!
Most aspects of the league now probably determined in all likelihood – barring any drastic changes in form: Lightning and Storm qualified, Vipers and Diamonds out. The race for third is now a battleground that will reveal itself over the next few days. Tomorrow’s Thunder v Stars fixture is key to this. Thunder have turned it all round this year, and a lot of people including me would like to see them do well, but they’ve shown they can be fallible as well. They’ve lost to the top teams (Lightning and Storm) whilst Stars lone victory so far actually came with what might have been an unexpected win at Storm. So they are capable of beating the top teams.
In truth a Thunder win tomorrow might mean it’s too big a gap (10 or 11 pts) for Stars to make up in just 4 remaining games. So it will be interesting to see how well both teams perform. It’s on Sky, so will have improved coverage/highlights available, and should be a great game!