Katya Witney at Loughborough
Haslegrave felt more like the Caribbean on Saturday as the North Group of the Charlotte Edwards Cup kicked off in stunning style with the star-studded Lightning and Northern Diamonds teams going head to head.
After the Northern Diamonds won the toss and elected to bat, spectators were treated to a destructive display from Lauren Winfield-Hill first up. She got off the mark straight away with an elegant flick off her pads into the leg-side and followed up with a boundary in the next over. Abigail Glen ably abetted her partner and the fifty came up for the Diamonds before the end of the fifth over.
Glen then departed for 25, looping a catch to Teresa Graves at backward point, leaving Winfield-Hill to take centre stage. The England opener took Kirstie Gordon for consecutive fours before advancing down the wicket to smash the first six of the match. She brought up her fifty off 24 balls and took her side into three figures off the first ball of the 11th over.
As the run rate slowed slightly in the middle overs, Winfield-Hill stepped up a gear, whacking three consecutive maximums in the 14th over to take her into the nineties.
It wasn’t to be a comeback hundred for the opener, however, as she was caught off a top edge on 96 looking to bring up her century in style. She left the field to a standing ovation from the away crowd.
With five overs left in their innings, the Diamonds were 145 for 2 and a big total was on the cards. However a flurry of wickets followed. Lee Kasperek’s debut for the Diamonds with the bat was short-lived as she departed for seven, followed by Rachel Hopkins for a duck in the next over and Beth Langston four balls later.
Armitage batted well to anchor the innings and a four off the final ball brought the total to 177, a tough ask for Lightning but not as tough as it could’ve been when Winfield Hill was in full flow.
Emma Marlow opened the bowling for the Diamonds and immediately made it tough for both openers to score, Tammy Beaumont Beaumont and Marie Kelly only managing a single each off the first over.
The power-play was sedate by the standards set in the first innings but the Lightning were soon able to settle into the pitch, Rachel Slater conceding three fours down the ground in the fifth over.
By the halfway point, things were looking fairly positive for the Lightning with the openers building a solid platform and the required run-rate hovering at around ten an over. Just as there may have been some slight concern building for the Diamonds, Langston made the breakthrough, bowling Kelly for 46.
Katherine Bryce came to the crease but struggled to get going, only managing four off six before she was clean bowled by Marlow.
Beaumont was the crucial wicket and as the required run rate began to climb, she teed off. She hit Langston for three fours in an over and followed up with a powerful shot over the extra-cover boundary off Kasperek to bring up her fifty.
However, Marlow took the crucial wicket for her side in the 17th over, bowling Beaumont for 59. In a superb display from the young off-spinner, she finished with figures of 2-12 off her four overs.
With Beaumont back in the dug-out, the result was pretty much decided. Munro was out in the next over and Linsey Smith took two wickets in the final over to leave Lightening well short on 138 for 7.
The day belonged to Winfield-Hill who looked a class above anyone else and will be pleased with her comeback after a difficult winter.
Both sides will be back in action on Wednesday in the next round of fixtures.
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