Katya Witney at Old Trafford
The Southern Vipers charged into the final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup after thrashing the Thunder by six wickets at Old Trafford on Friday night.
With a few drops of rain in the air, Ellie Threlkeld won yet another toss and elected to bat. Despite the Vipers being the favourites having won four from four in the tournament, the return of Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone to the side bolstered the home side’s chances.
But the Thunder’s innings failed to ever really get going thanks to some tight bowling from the Viper’s bowling attack. Emma Lamb was dismissed by Freya Kemp in her second over, caught by Georgia Adams at mid-on. The wicket brought Cross to the crease for a short cameo where she hit a four off her third delivery and went on to score 18 before she was dismissed by Charlie Dean.
Ecclestone replaced her England teammate at the crease and crashed a six off her second ball before Georgie Boyce was bowled at the other end by Kemp for just 9 off 23 deliveries. The Thunder were left struggling at 44 for 3 at the halfway stage.
Danielle Collins’ stay at the crease was also short, she was LBW to Dean in the 13th over.
Ecclestone and Threlkeld built a small partnership in the following overs, knocking the singles to take the home side to 82 for 5 in the 17th before Threlkeld was dismissed by Dean, the right-arm off-spinner taking a smart catch off her own bowling.
Laura Marshall then lasted two deliveries before she got a big top edge on a ball from Tara Norris which popped up in the air nicely for Maia Bouchier to take a simple catch.
At the end of their innings, the Thunder had only managed 94 for 6, Ecclestone top-scoring with 28 off 32 balls. Dean starred with the ball, taking 3 for 16 off her four overs. It looked like a near-impossible task for the Thunder to defend their total and the real question was whether the Vipers could chase the total in under 16.4 overs to gain a bonus point victory and automatic qualification for the final.
Wyatt and Adams made a solid start for the Vipers, Wyatt hitting a six off Ecclestone in the third over, slog-sweeping the ball over deep mid-wicket to take her side to 22 for no-wicket.
She was dismissed by Alex Hartley in the fifth over, advancing down the wicket looking to swing into the leg side, but missed the ball completely and was stumped by Threlkeld.
Adams followed two balls later, Laura Jackson taking a smart catch inside the ring to give Cross a wicket, leaving the Vipers at 34 for 2 in the sixth over.
With both openers back in the dugout, Bouchier and Elwiss set about consolidating for the Vipers, working the singles to take their side to 52 for 2 at the halfway stage.
Bouchier was dismissed in the following over by Ecclestone, taking a good catch above her head to complete the caught and bowled. Kemp followed at the end of the 13th over, bowled by Jackson, but at this point, the Vipers were in cruise mode needing just 20 to win.
The victory, bonus point and qualification were wrapped up in the 16th over off the bat of Elwiss who finished with an unbeaten 38.
The Vipers once again didn’t put a foot wrong and deservedly qualify as the best group stage team. They will be back in action on Saturday against the Diamonds, whilst the Thunder will be back at Old Trafford on Friday to face the Lightning.
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