Southern Vipers made a powerful statement of intent as they thrashed Thunder by eight wickets in their Charlotte Edwards Cup opener at Hove.
Vipers’ stranglehold on the domestic honours was ended when South East Stars won last year’s edition of the T20 competition but they look like the side to beat after making short work of their visitors.
After putting Thunder in and restricting them to 102 for seven on a good batting pitch, skipper Georgia Adams and Maia Bouchier put on 60 from 43 balls for the second wicket to make the chase a formality. Bouchier finished unbeaten on 48 as Vipers wrapped up victory with 39 balls to spare.
Skipper Kate Cross had given Thunder hope when she knocked back Ellie McLaughlan’s leg stump with a ball which swung late in the first over, but Adams and Bouchier were soon putting Thunder's under-par total in perspective.
They had 56 on the board at the end of the powerplay with neither afraid to take the aerial route. Adams hit Alex Hartley back down the ground for six as well as five boundaries in her 34 off 27 balls, and although she holed out to Emma Lamb in the eighth over Vipers had broken the back of their chase.
Bouchier survived a chance on 30 when she was put down by Cross at long on but finished the game with a slog-sweep off Hartley for her fifth boundary, her unbeaten 48 coming off 33 balls.
Earlier, only England opener Lamb, who made a run-a-ball 23, was able to escape the shackles imposed by a disciplined attack.
Lamb hit four boundaries, including two off Anya Shrubsole, who was making her Vipers’ debut, but Thunder got bogged down after Lamb was bowled by Georgia Elwiss in the seventh over playing across a straight one.
They were 49 for two at that stage but they only managed two more boundaries as Vipers took wickets regularly and they never allowed the run rate to creep above five an over.
Adams employed seven bowlers with off-spinner Charlie Dean and 17-year-old left-armer Freya Kemp, another player making her Vipers’ debut, the pick of the attack.
Dean picked up Danielle Collins, one of only three Thunder batters to get into double figures, in her second over when she was bowled playing across the line. She also had Phoebe Graham well caught by wicketkeeper Carla Rudd off a thin under-edge in her final over as she finished with two for 17.
Kemp, preferred instead of Shrubsole to take the new ball, ended a promising opening stand of 36 between Lamb and Georgia Boyce in the fifth over when Boyce mis-timed a pull to deep square-leg.
Shrubsole picked up the wicket of former England teammate Cross, who lost her leg bail to a delivery angled across her, while the other wicket-taker was Lauren Bell, who conceded 17 runs in her second over but recovered to have Thunder captain Ellie Threlkeld held off a mis-timed pull.