Southern Vipers and Lancashire Thunder produced a thrilling tie under the Hove lights in the Kia Super League.
On a slow pitch Thunder’s 132 for 7 didn’t look enough but by the seventh over of their reply Vipers had slumped to 24 for 4. Stefanie Taylor (51) and Maia Bouchier (40) appeared to be taking Vipers to victory but the game seemed to swing back Lancashire’s way again in the 19th over when Taylor was bowled sweeping Sophie Ecclestone, who then ran out Bouchier for 40 with a direct hit on the turn.
Vipers needed 12 off the final over and were back in control when Sarah-Jade Wellington struck the first two balls from Emma Lamb to the boundary only to be stumped off the next. Tash Farrant scrambled two off the fourth delivery but was bowled attempting a reverse-hit off the fifth. Carla Rudd could only manage a single off the final ball to leave the scores level.
Skipper Kate Cross had made the breakthrough in the second over when Danni Wyatt (1) feathered an edge to the wicketkeeper before Suzie Bates (10) played on to Sophie Ecclestone in the next over. Thea Brookes mis-timed a drive to mid-off to give Cross a second wicket and Lancashire appeared to be in control when Tammy Beaumont (10) squirted a delivery well outside off stump from Ema Lamb to point in the seventh over.
But player of the match Taylor, who had earlier taken 2 for 23, and Bouchier turned things around in a terrific stand of 94 in 12 overs which got Vipers’ target down to 15 off two overs. Taylor took her aggregate in four innings to 173 runs as he hit Sophia Dunkley for two sixes and also struck four boundaries in 51 from 43 balls
Having won the toss Thunder found themselves in early trouble when they lost openers Tahlia McGrath and Sune Luus in the first two overs. McGrath steered Farrant’s third ball to backward point and Luus was run out by Wyatt’s accurate throw from deep mid-wicket as she came back for a second.
Skipper Beaumont mixed up her bowlers effectively and Vipers were in control when New Zealand leg-spinner Wellington came on in the seventh over to pick up two wickets and reduce Thunder to 28 for 4. A promising start by Dunkley (22) ended when she drilled a return catch back to the bowler and Georgie Boyce played across a quicker delivery to fall for a two-ball duck.
Thunder fought back through Harmanpreet Kaur and Lamb, who shared 62 in seven overs for the fifth wicket and played with increasing confidence. Harmanpreet appeared to be moving through the gears when she drove Taylor over extra cover for six and hit the next ball for four but she was caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 34 off the next delivery. Lamb fell for 29 off 24 balls in the next over when she became Wellington’s third victim.
Thunder were 94 for 7 in the 16th but Cross and Ecclestone put on 38 for the seventh wicket and they proved to be crucial runs.