A blistering innings of 72 from 44 balls from South African opener Lizelle Lee set up Surrey Stars’ fourth win in four games of the 2017 Kia Super League, and secured their place in Finals Day at Hove on 1 September.
Lee hit seven fours and six huge sixes against Western Storm, which helped guide Surrey to a formidable total of 169 for six from their 20 overs in front of a crowd of around 1,000 at the Kia Oval.
Stars did not have things all their own way early on, however, as they lost the toss and were invited to bat, then saw England international Tammy Beaumont dismissed by the first ball of the innings. She was lbw to Claire Nicholas’s spin.
That did not perturb Lee, who proceeded to put on 103 for the second wicket with fellow South African Marizanne Kapp. Lee lap-swept and cut powerfully before being dropped on 31 at midwicket off the bowling of Stafanie Taylor, who she then swept for two sixes.
Lee also got after England and Storm captain Heather Knight, hitting her for three sixes in an over before cutting straight to cover-point. That brought captain Nat Sciver to the crease, and she hit six fours in a hard-hitting cameo of 30 from 18 balls before being caught at long-on off Nicholas.
There were a flurry of wickets at the end of Surrey’s innings, with Nicholas also dismissing Kapp for 48 to finish with 3 for 20.
In the face of such a formidable total last year’s finalists never really got going, with Kapp trapping England pair Knight and Fran Wilson with consecutive balls in her second over. Rachel Priest looked dangerous before she, like Taylor, fell to Sciver, who is the tournament’s leading wicket taker with 10.
With their high-class top four gone, the job was left to Storm’s youngsters. Sophie Luff was caught at cover off Alex Hartley, but some resourceful hitting from Georgia Hennessey and Alice Macleod saw them share 59.
But they fell in consecutive overs to the spin of Laura Marsh and Hartley, bringing about a collapse of four wickets for six runs. Sciver returned to bowl the final over, having Holly Huddleston caught at long-on to secure at 52-run victory as Storm were bowled out for 117.
Vipers see off Thunder
Defending champions Southern Vipers bowled struggling Lancashire out for 87 in a six-wicket win at Liverpool to also qualify for next week’s Finals Day with a group game to spare.
The Vipers consigned the Thunder to their fourth straight defeat with an impressive, but not perfect, performance built on success with the ball.
Spin proved crucial as the Vipers took their first four wickets for just seven runs in 17 balls, although they dropped a couple of catches and later slipped to 41 for four in reply.
The hosts, who elected to bat, failed to recover from losing key batters Sarah Taylor and Amy Satterthwaite in the space of five balls to the off-spin of Hayley Matthews and left-armer Linsey Smith as the score fell to nine for three in the fourth over.
Either side of the two international dismissals, Smith bowled Emma Lamb and Eve Jones to return three for 16.
Former Thunder batter Danni Wyatt then held the Vipers chase together with a composed unbeaten 29-ball 46 following the loss of star player Suzie Bates.
New Zealander Bates still managed to stay in the thick of the action.
She had Sophie Ecclestone caught at mid-on with her first ball as Lancashire fell to 57 for eight and also took two catches.
Bates is the leading run-scorer in the competition with 227, the leading catcher with six and the second leading wicket-taker with seven.
Lancashire gained some respectability through captain Danielle Hazell, who hit three sixes in 37, and Kate Cross with 19, the two sharing 21 for the ninth wicket.
Spin continued to prosper in the Vipers chase as left-arm spinner Ecclestone struck twice in her first over, the second of the innings, as the score fell to eight for two.
She had Matthews caught at mid-off and bowled Georgia Adams before Jess Jonassen had Bates caught at mid-off and Hazell bowled Mignon du Preez.
From there, Wyatt was helped along by fifth-wicket partner Arran Brindle, who hit 19 not out. They shared an unbroken 47 and won with 5.1 overs remaining.
Vipers host Yorkshire Diamonds at Arundel in their final group game on Saturday afternoon, and a win could still hand them a direct passage into the final with them three points behind Surrey.
Thunder travel to Bristol to face Western Storm.
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