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Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2022: Western Storm beat Thunder on by 2 wkts (21b rem) (D/L)

Dani Gibson (56)
Dani Gibson (56)
©Western Storm/ Twitter
 

Western Storm ended their season on a high with a narrow two-wicket victory over Thunder in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Emirates Old Trafford.

Match Summary

Thunder 242/5 (50 ov)

Western Storm 239/8 (44.3 ov) S

torm won by 2 wkts (21b rem) (D/L)

SCORECARD


Top Tournament Stats -  Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy 2022

Top Batter (Runs Scored)

Top Bowler (Wickets taken)

Most Sixes

Points Table

An 81-run partnership between Danielle Gibson and Nat Wraith midway through the Storm innings looked to have proved decisive in chasing a DLS target of 239 in 48 overs after a half-century by Seren Smale and Libby Heap’s explosive 36 had helped the hosts reach 242 for five in 50.   

But Thunder hit back with late wickets to produce a tense finish before Chloe Skelton hit the winning run with 21 balls to spare.  

The Storm’s third win means they finish fourth in the group on 15 points while Thunder end in seventh spot with six points.  

Storm made a good start to their innings with a 53-run partnership inside 10 overs between Emma Corney and Alex Griffiths, ended when Phoebe Graham bowled Corney for 23.  

Fellow opener Griffiths edged behind off Sophia Turner for 33, the first of three catches for wicketkeeper Ellie Threlkeld who also snared Fran Wilson for 28 off spinner Heap and Storm captain Sophie Luff to give the excellent Turner a second wicket and leave the visitors in a spot of difficulty on 115 for four in the 25th over.  

But Wraith and Gibson took 22 runs off a wayward 27th over from Deandra Dottin to put the run chase, delayed briefly by rain, back on course and the pair went on to produce that vital fifth-wicket partnership of 81 inside nine overs.  

Gibson hit eight boundaries in an eye-catching innings of 56 off 40 balls with wicketkeeper Wraith providing great support with 32 off 30 before being well caught at long-on by Daisy Mullan off Laura Jackson (three for 50) with 43 required.  

Jackson bowled Niamh Holland and had Gibson caught at short fine-leg before Lauren Filer departed to Graham to set Storm nerves jangling.  

But in a tense finale Sophia Smale (nine not out) and Skelton (six not out) edged their way to victory in the 45th over.  

Having been inserted, Thunder enjoyed a good start and a great finish to their innings to post what looked to be a challenging total.   

Dottin and Seren Smale combined for Thunder’s highest-ever opening partnership in three seasons of this competition to get the hosts off to the perfect start.   

Both batted fluently with overseas all-rounder Dottin driving to good effect in making a tournament best 46 before picking out Wilson at short extra cover off Skelton with 87 runs on the board inside 20 overs.   

Smale, who survived a chance off Filer on 12, went on to make a career-best 57 with some clever placement exploiting gaps in the field as Thunder arrived at the halfway stage well-placed at 98 for one.   

After Smale had reached her maiden half century off 85 balls when driving Griffiths for her fifth boundary, it took a splendid one-handed return catch by Skelton to send back the Thunder opener during an excellent 10-over spell of two for 33.   

Dani Collins hit four boundaries in a steady innings of 32 – her best in List A - before top edging Filer behind midway through the 38th over.   

Filer (three for 46) trapped Laura Marshall lbw and had Mullan caught at mid-on but Threlkeld and all-rounder Heap then put huge momentum into the Thunder innings with an unbroken alliance of 58 from the final 29 deliveries.   

Thunder skipper Threlkeld made 30 off 31 balls but Heap smashed two sixes and three fours in a stunning innings of 36 from only 18 balls to take Thunder to a total that very nearly proved to be enough.  

Thunder coach Paul Shaw said:

 

“I thought we started really well. It was doing a bit at the start, but we got through that. Deandra and young Seren batted well. 

“We got into a decent position at 87-1 after 20, but they came back into the game and we got stuck for a bit. We then got going again with Libby Heap, who is a good young player for the future, striking the ball nicely and getting us to a competitive total.

“I would have liked 25 more. If one of our top four had gone into the last five overs, we’d have got 260-270.

“In the second innings, we had a 10-over spell when Gibson came in where we just fed her a bit and let her get away. Then we got back into the game at the end. 

“It’s disappointing to have lost a game that we should have won, but I’m pleased that we’ve been in every game bar one this season. That demonstrates improvement. 

“As coaches, staff and players, now we want to start winning games of cricket.”

 

Western Storm all-rounder Danielle Gibson said: 

 

“It was good to finish with a win. 

“We performed really well with the ball but lost it a bit at the end of both innings. 

“But because we had done so well at the start, we managed to make it a score we could chase down at the end.

“I kept looking at DLS and was a bit nervous about it. But that over (22 from Dottin) did help. That gave us the momentum to just keep going with it. 

“We’ve got so much talent in our group. We’ve got a lot of youngsters. The average today was 20-years-old, so it shows that if we work hard in the winter, next year could possibly be a good year for us.  

“It’s always good to get a score on the board and a win for Storm at the end. I feel like I played well - played the pitch well - and had some good support with me to keep me going.”

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