Western Storm beat Thunder by seven wickets
Defending champions Western Storm moved to the top of the Kia Super League table at the halfway stage thanks to a brilliant innings from Smriti Mandhana.
The India international, who was already top-scorer in the competition, struck her first T20 century to guide Storm to a routine win over Lancashire Thunder.
It was a match defined by two left-hand internationals, as Thunder’s Amy Satterthwaite produced her best ever score for Lancashire with an unbeaten 85 to guide her side to 153-7, but it proved not to be enough.
Thunder got off to the best possible start to the defence of their total as Rachel Priest fell to Kate Cross in the first over for just five.
But Mandhana took the attack to Lancashire from the off and began to break the back of the chase. In the third over, bowled by Cross, she struck two sweet sixes to take Storm to 29-1.
The India international continued to time the ball perfectly, dismissing Thunder’s battery of spinners to the fence with ease. She lost partner Heather Knight for just eight, caught in the deep off Emma Lamb.
Mandhana though would march on, supported ably by West Indian Stafanie Taylor. The Indian’s half-century was reached from just 34 balls and she pressed the accelerator after reaching that landmark.
She took 15 from the 12th over, delivered by England international Alex Hartley, to move to 78 from just 45 balls and bring the required equation down to 51 from 48.
From there, it was a simple chase as Mandhana and Taylor put on 105. Mandhana fell for 102 from 61 balls, with 12 fours and four sixes in her superb innings. Victory came two balls later, with 10 balls to spare.
Earlier, Lancashire’s innings was dominated by Satterthwaite’s brilliant knock. But early on it was Australian Nicole Bolton, fresh from her 87 from 61 balls in the last game against Surrey Stars, who delivered the early fireworks.
She hit three glorious boundaries in the third over, bowled by Anya Shrubsole, but perished to the final delivery – edging behind as she attempted a fine cut.
Her opening partner Eve Jones was then undone by a fantastic slower ball from Freya Davies, trapping the left-hander lbw for 4.
At the end of the powerplay Thunder were 31-2, with India Women’s captain Harmanpreet Kaur, on her home debut, at the crease. She went without scoring, however, run out by Claire Nicholas attempting a quick single.
But Satterthwaite moved through the gears during her innings. The New Zealander struck a six off Heather Knight in the seventh over and also deposited a Stafanie Taylor full-toss into the stands in the 10th.
Her fifty arrived from 41 balls and she had soon passed her best for Thunder – made last week against Yorkshire.
She shared a half-century stand with Emma Lamb from just 39 balls. A flurry of wickets fell in the late pursuit of runs, but Satterthwaite remained unbeaten at the end on 85 from 57 balls as Thunder posted 153-7.
Thanks to Mandhana, it was a total that proved not to be enough. Defeat ends a run of three successive victories for Thunder and extends Storms’ winning run to three.
Storm move on to face Yorkshire Diamonds at Scarborough on Sunday while Thunder are back at Old Trafford on Tuesday to face Surrey Stars