Loughborough Lightning beat Surrey Stars by seven wickets
Mignon Du Preez struck a majestic unbeaten half century as Loughborough Lightning crushed hosts Surrey Stars by seven wickets at Guildford.
Surrey Stars 120-7
Loughborough Lightning 123-3
Loughborough won by 7 wickets
The former South African captain made 70 off just 41 balls, sharing an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 92 with Georgia Adams, meaning Lightning made short work of a below par target of 121.
Earlier, Surrey Stars had struggled to muster 120, their efforts strangled by tight bowling from Hayley Matthews and Kathryn Bryce (2-16) in particular.
Jenny Gunn, standing in for Georgia Elwiss as Loughborough skipper won the toss and chose to field.
Initially the decision looked questionable as Lizelle Lee launched four boundaries off the second over bowled by Tara Norris to give the Stars some early impetus.
Bryony Smith attempted to follow suite, hitting the game’s first six off Gunn, but skied the next ball to Chaman Attapattu at cover.
Lee was given a life when she pulled a short one from Hayley Matthews behind square, the ball going through the hands of Glenn and away to the boundary.
But fears it would be a costly were erased later in the over when Matthews (2-12) lured Lee (25) down the pitch and she was expertly stumped by Amy Jones.
Marizanne Kapp and Stars’ skipper Natalie Sciver attempted a rebuild, the former striking a six which just cleared mid-on. However, in attempting to repeat the shot in the next over, the South African all-rounder picked out Norris on the fence.
With the pitch slow and Gunn rotating her bowlers cleverly, even the usually free-scoring Sciver struggled to get the ball away, eating up 27 balls for 23.
Frustration ultimately got the better of her as she missed an ugly heave to cow corner off Matthews and over-balanced, giving Jones her second stumping of the day.
Thereafter, only Dane Van Niekerk (20), who hit a huge six into the car park, briefly broke the shackles as Stars limped to 120-7.
The hosts needed early wickets and Mady Villiers obliged when Matthews hoisted her into the hands of Kapp at deep mid-wicket with just eight on the board.
Kapp was in the action again next over ball in hand, though the wicket of Jones owed much to a stunning catch from Lee, who flung herself full length at point to take the ball inches from the ground.
And when Aylish Cranstone clung on to a top edge from Attapattu off Van Niekerk, Lightning were wobbling at 31-3.
Their hopes appeared to rest on the duo of Du Preez and Georgia Adams and the former struck four early boundaries as 50 came up in the eighth over.
The former South African skipper punished both Laura Marsh and Sciver as runs came quickly helped by several fumbes in the field from Stars.
Adams caught the mood, sweeping Villiers to the fence to raise the 50-partnership in just 38 balls.
Du Preez raced to 50 in just 33 balls courtesy of her ninth four and three more followed as Lightning romped home with 31 balls to spare.
Grace Gibbs (Surrey Stars)
“We wanted 150-160, so 120 wasn’t anywhere near where we wanted to be.
“It was quite slow, but the odd one would nip through and do a bit off the pitch and we just didn’t adapt to it as quickly as we could have.
“We started well with the ball and were beating them in the power play getting three wickets down and with three of their big players, but Mignon Du Preez you can’t fault how she batted. She played the pitch well and we couldn’t pin her down.
“120 is only a run a ball and they picked their singles really well and got rid of our bad balls.”
Mignon Du Preez (Loughborough batsman)
“It was quite a special day. I’ve had a lot of starts early in the tournament and haven’t managed to convert, so to do it in this situation was really special.
“We lost a few early wickets, but we know that we bat quite deep, so the important thing was just to try and stay nice and calm, rebuild and spend some time in the middle.
“It was actually a really good track. The key for me, not to go looking for anything in the beginning and just work it around until I found my feet.
“We felt there was a little bit of extra bounce, so I went back slightly deeper to open up square options and that actually helped me
“Kathryn Bryce has done really well throughout the competition and put her hand up quite a few times. I think what makes her special is she is slightly slower, and on some wickets if you take the pace off it can work in your favour. She’s done really well to stay close to the stumps and try and hit them as much as possible.”