Loughborough Lightning made it three wins from four Women’s Kia Super League matches with an emphatic 41-run victory over Yorkshire Diamonds at the Hazlegrave Ground in Loughborough.
After posting a total of 143-6 from their 20 overs, with opener Rachael Haynes leading the way with 50 as she and Sophie Devine put on 80 in 10 overs for the first wicket, Lightning restricted the struggling Diamonds to 101-9 overs as their quartet of spinners again played a major role.
Only Thea Brookes, playing against her former teammates, offered any real threat, and her 30 off 22 balls, including three sixes, came too late to make a difference to the outcome as Diamonds slumped to a third defeat in four matches, their other fixture washed out without a ball bowled.
All-rounder Devine clinched the player-of-the-match award by adding two for 19 from her four overs to 30 runs with the bat as she and fellow strike bowler Jenny Gunn limited Diamonds to just 19 runs in the Powerplay overs.
But there were equally impressive performances from their slow bowlers, with leg-spinner Sarah Glenn, off-spinner Lucy Higham and the two left-armers, Linsey Smith and Kirstie Gordon, all among the wickets.
The 20-year-old Scot Gordon, in her first KSL after an outstanding county season with Nottinghamshire, claimed 2-10 from three overs to increase her haul to six in the tournament so far.
Although they had more than enough in the end, Lightning were slightly disappointed not to have posted a larger total after such a strong opening partnership between overseas stars Haynes and Devine.
Left-hander Haynes, who captained Australia to an Ashes victory Down Under last year, made an assertive 40-ball half-century and big-hitting New Zealander Devine a typically aggressive 30 off 24 balls.
There were boundaries aplenty for Lightning’s home crowd to cheer, nine of them in the Powerplay as Haynes set the tone, pushing the score to 53 without loss in the first six overs of which 30 came in two overs off inexperienced leg-spinner Helen Fenby and Alice Davidson-Richards, although Fenby was unlucky to have Devine dropped at cover on eight.
There was a setback for Lightning when Devine, who had smashed a mighty six over cover off the Australian Delissa Kimmince, was caught behind trying to run a ball from canny leg-spinner Katie Levick down to third man, and then Haynes was brilliantly caught by Chamari Atapattu at deep midwicket in Levick’s next over.
Elyse Villani, the second of Lightning’s Australian batters, made sure any loss of momentum was short-lived, smiting 17 off just eight deliveries, but it was after she was run out, beaten by Beth Langston’s superb throw, in the 14th over that runs became more difficult to come by.
Diamonds struck another important blow when Amy Jones holed out to long-on off Langston thanks to another excellent catch, this time by Davidson-Richards, and Lightning found the boundary only twice in the last seven overs and were grateful for some fine running between the wickets by Georgia Adams and skipper Georgia Elwiss in adding 30 for the fifth wicket.
Brunt, who bowled Adams in the final over, was the pick of seven bowlers used by Diamonds, going for just three an over, although Langston came back well after conceding 16 in her first two overs and Levick bowled few loose deliveries.
Diamonds felt it was a target within their reach but having lost openers Lauren Winfield and Beth Mooney to comfortable catches during a powerplay in which they managed only two boundaries they were always fighting a losing battle.
Katherine Brunt tried to force her side back into contention with a brief show of intent but she was leg before to Glenn for 12 and Diamonds were never able to mount a meaningful recovery.
What they said
Lightning’s Sophie Devine:
“Me and Rachael Haynes have developed a really good partnership at the top of the order. The other day it was my turn and today she was the one that was firing.
“After the Storm defeat it was really important to bounce back with a big win and we’re really pleased to come away with five points.
“We bowled well in partnerships. Jenny Gunn was fantastic and we put pressure on them from the start and it was followed up by some great performances from everyone else.
“We thought we might have actually got a few more with the bat, maybe 160, but we knew 140 was always something we could defend.”
Diamonds batter Thea Brookes:
“It was disappointing, of course, but they got off to a really good start with the partnerships and when they bowled they made it really difficult for us. They bowled really good lengths and lines and everything was on stumps.
“The powerplay was key. Usually in T20 if you win the powerplay you win the game.
“But at the halfway point we were very pleased. I think they were disappointed not to have got 20 or 30 more runs and we thought on this ground with short straight boundaries it was a total we could chase. The second half of their innings we came back well.
“In the end we were outplayed but in the last couple of games at times we have showed we can bat and we can bowl and we are a good team. It is just a matter of putting it all together.
“And with the longer format there is still time to turn it round. With six games left if we can put a run together, who knows?”
Yorkshire Diamonds will continue their Kia Super League campaign against Southern Vipers at York Cricket Club on Thursday.
Gates will open at 1:30pm with the game set to start at 2:30pm. Tickets cost just £5 for adults and £1 for juniors.Yorkshire CCC Full and One-Day Members can gain free admission on production of their membership card.