MATCH CENTRE 

Northern Diamonds’ chances of reaching the final stages of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy received a massive boost after they pulled off a fabulously comprehensive 48-run victory over cross-Pennines rivals Thunder at Sale today.

Defending champions Diamonds were indebted to the brilliance of Lauren Winfield-Hill again as she maintained her excellent white ball form with a dominant 89, underpinning a total of 196 all out. 

In pursuit, Thunder slipped to 148 all out. 

Mercurial leg-spinner Katie Levick took a hammer to their knockout hopes with a brilliant 4-28 from 10 overs, while Phoebe Turner also impressed with 3-18 from five overs of seam – her best figures in all forms of senior cricket. 

This was the second successive win for the Diamonds, their sixth in 13 matches in all. And while they are fifth in the table, they are only one point outside the top three with a round remaining. They must beat Sunrisers at Chester-le-Street on Saturday to have any chance of progression. 

Diamonds got off to a quick start with Winfield-Hill beginning where she left off in the win against Western Storm by hitting a trio of boundaries in the first few overs as the score raced along in the early morning sunshine.

Winfield-Hill has now reached fifty 12 times in her last 20 innings in this competition, including two hundreds. 

Lauren Winfield-Hill

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Lauren Winfield-Hill attacks.

But Thunder hit back when Phoebe Graham produced a cracking delivery which nipped back and removed Sterre Kalis’s bails for eight.

Winfield-Hill continued to dominate the bowling, hitting fours at will as Graham and fellow opening bowler Tara Norris proved expensive with the visitors reaching the end of the powerplay on 63-2.

With Hollie Armitage departing just before that in the ninth over for nine, attempting to reverse sweep Hannah Jones, Diamonds gave a hint of the trouble that was to come as Thunder successfully introduced the spin of Jones, Fi Morris and Olivia Bell to brilliant effect.

Jones had Emma Marlow trapped in front for nine before Bell ripped out Diamonds’ middle order with a succession of wickets which dragged the home side back into a game Winfield-Hill had threatened to take away from them.

Rebecca Duckworth played well for her 27 off 54 balls as she and Winfield-Hill put on 46 runs for the fourth wicket before she was bowled by Bell leaving the former England opener struggling to find another partner of note – 129-4 in the 29th over.

The pressure of carrying the innings eventually became too much for Winfield-Hill, who was bowled by the returning Norris for 89 off 90 balls including 14 fours. 

It was a superb knock but her departure – 151-5 in the 34th – hastened the end for Diamonds who quickly lost Leah Dobson and Turner to the rampant Bell before Levick became the Thunder off-spinner’s fourth wicket.

By then the score was 169-8 and Naomi Dattani mopped up the tail’s dogged resistance with the wickets of Grace Hall and Jessica Woolston to leave Diamonds posting an underwhelming 196 all out off 46.4 overs.

Woolston was returning from injury, though wasn’t actually printed on the initial team-sheets published online from the ground just after the toss. Instead, Yvonne Graves was in the eleven. 

With both sides desperate for the win, nerves were jangling as Thunder began their innings with one delivery from Lizzie Scott’s first over going for five wides.

Runs flowed for the first five overs until Liberty Heap was bowled by a fine in-swinging delivery from Woolston for 14 to leave Thunder 27-1.

Dattani looked to rebuild and the hosts passed 50 before she was brilliantly caught down the leg side by Winfield-Hill off Levick’s third ball with the spinner’s fourth ball trapping Morris in front without scoring to leave Thunder suddenly up against it at 54-3.

A captain’s innings was required and Ellie Threlkeld looked up for the challenge as she and Seren Smale began to build a fourth wicket partnership which slowly pulled Thunder back into the contest.

Katie Levick

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com. Katie Levick has her eyes on another trophy.

A wicket looked vital for Diamonds, and Turner obliged as she began a spell that would turn the match the visitors’ way with Smale top edging a delivery to depart for 33 before Threlkeld’s vigil ended slightly unluckily when she found Marlow on the leg-side boundary for 31.

With that, the stuffing was knocked out of the Thunder reply and Turner took another one to claim Daisy Mullan without scoring with Levick accounting for Norris lbw for one.

Graham quickly followed the same way to the same bowler for a third ball duck and despite some resistance from Laura Delany and Bell the game was up when the latter was run out for eight and Jones fell the same way as Thunder were dismissed for 148.

Phoebe Turner

Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com. Phoebe Turner starred with the ball. 

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