Thunder beaten convincingly by Loughborough
Loughborough Lightning booked their place at finals day in the third Women’s Kia Super League with a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Lancashire Thunder, knocking off a target of 137 with 33 balls to spare.
England’s Amy Jones led with the way with a sparkling unbeaten 66 off 39 deliveries, backed up by an unbeaten 40 from Australian opener Rachael Haynes in an unbroken partnership of 110 in 11 overs.
Wicketkeeper Jones hit eight fours and three sixes to post comfortably her best score in three seasons with Lightning but maintaining a run of improved performances with the bat, which included two 50-overs half-centuries for England in their series against New Zealand earlier this summer.
The win means that Lightning complete their fixtures at the Haslegrave Ground with a 100 per cent record before decamping to Edgbaston for their final ‘home’ match, the televised showdown with Western Storm that may well decide who finishes top of the table.
Thunder, who had chosen to bat first after winning the toss, had looked on for a more substantial total after Georgie Boyce and Amy Satterthwaite had built on a productive powerplay with a stand of 47 for the second wicket.
Boyce, who had been part of the Lightning squad in 2016 and 2017 without making an appearance in the KSL, looked at home on the Haslegrave Ground pitch. Replacing Evelyn Jones in the Thunder line-up and pushed up the order to open with the Australian Nicole Bolton, Nottingham-born Boyce calmed any nerves with a couple of early boundaries and had the confidence to take the initiative after Bolton had been leg before to left-arm spinner Linsey Smith for 19 in the sixth over, at the end of which Thunder were 40-1.
Boyce launched a straight six off Lightning skipper Georgia Elwiss’s medium pace. Her luck ran out when Jenny Gunn, who had dropped her in the previous over, held a catch at deep midwicket in the 12th over but her 38 off 41 balls was comfortably her best KSL score and her partnership with Satterthwaite had added 47 in 6.1 overs.
Having been 81-1, Thunder looked to have a platform for a more challenging total but although the tall left-hander Satterthwaite maintained her consistent form with the bat, no one could provide the supporting role the innings needed as Lightning’s spinners built pressure through the middle overs.
Harmanpreet Kaur gave an easy return catch to Elwiss and Natalie Brown was lured down the track by Kirstie Gordon to give Amy Jones a straightforward stumping.
Satterthwaite had success against most of the bowlers but Thunder’s attempts to push up the scoring rate became desperate in the end and four wickets fell in the final three overs of the innings, including Satterthwaite, caught off a thick edge by Smith at cover off seamer Sophie Devine, whose two wickets took her to 13 for the series as KSL 2018’s leading wickettaker.
In typical style, Devine was quick to find the boundary at the top of the Lightning innings before a rare mix-up with partner Haynes resulted in a run-out in the fourth over. Nonetheless, with Jones picking up the temp immediately to pull Emma Lamb for six, Lightning were 46-1 after six overs.
Hazell and Brown managed to slow the scoring pace but a couple of costly overs by Alex Hartley and Kate Cross tipped the balance back with Lightning comfortably on track at 89-1 after 10 overs.
Jones reached her fifty off just 30 balls with a couple of boundaries off Hazell and Lancashire’s afternoon was summed up when Hartley managed to bowl Haynes only for the left-hander to be recalled when the umpires pointed out that there were four fielders inside the circle.
Jones levelled the scores with her third six off Sophie Ecclestone, hit high over extra cover, before pushing another single to complete the win.