Katya Witney at Old Trafford
Sophie Ecclestone took career-best figures of 5-15 as the Thunder outclassed Lightning at Old Trafford on Friday.
Tammy Beaumont was still absent from the Lightning line-up but after winning the toss and electing to bat, the Lightning batters’ intent was clear from the off.
Marie Kelly smashed three fours in the first over before she was bowled by Alex Hartley looking to hit the left-arm spinner for a second six over square-leg. Ecclestone then took two wickets in her first over, Ella Claridge and Beth Harmer both playing attacking shots.
Despite the early flurry of wickets, Lightning continued to go after the Thunder’s spinners. Sarah Bryce was dismissed by Ecclestone after hitting her for a huge six in her second over and whilst their intent made for exciting watching, the shot execution was lacking from the batters.
Bethan Ellis top-edged a shorter delivery from Emma Lamb which fell comfortably into the hands of the fielder at backward square leg to leave Lightning 54 for 5 going into the 10th over.
Phoebe Graham combined with Ellie Threlkeld to secure two well-executed runouts, first dismissing Katherine Bryce in the 12th over and Lucy Higham in the 16th. The innings looked to be descending into chaos at 86 for 7 going into the final four.
The visitors were still in with a chance of setting a competitive total if they managed to stem the continual haemorrhaging of wickets but any hopes they may have had were put to bed by Ecclestone in her final over.
She took the wickets of Sophie Munro and Jade Ballinger off the first and fifth balls of her over and was one wicket away from a fifer with just one ball of her spell remaining and the number 11 on strike. Ecclestone did not disappoint on her home turf, snaring Josie Groves stumped around her legs to complete her career-best T20 figures of 5-15 before being mobbed by her teammates.
Whilst entertaining, Lighting were reckless and fell well short of the total they were capable of, having been bowled out two overs short of the 20. They now faced the difficult task of defending just 103.
Thunder lost Boyce early in their chase, LBW to Kelly but the home side clearly intended to continue the attacking theme of the day. Cross drove Ballinger beautifully for four before chipping the ball into the hands of Munro at mid-off two balls later.
After coming in at number four Ecclestone was next to go, missing a sweep-shot to Katherine Bryce and given LBW. Lightning were dragging themselves back into the contest with Thunder 26 for 3 at the end of the fifth.
Where the Lightning’s innings came undone through was continuing to attack despite losing quick wickets, while the Thunder found success by consolidating after their early losses. Lamb and Collins built a 50-run partnership in the middle overs, taking advantage of some loose deliveries from the Lightning spinners. Kelly was taken out of the attack after bowling two high no-balls.
Emma Lamb was the main source of runs, wracking up an impressive 42 off 35 deliveries before falling LBW to Ellis off the last ball of the 10th over.
Despite the loss of Collins, the victory was sealed by the Thunder in the 14th over, Threlkeld and Mullan seeing the home. Both sides put on an entertaining display with the bat but it was the execution of the Thunder batsmen and the superior quality of their spinners which was the difference between the sides.
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