England colleagues Heather Knight and Fran Wilson staged a brilliant recovery on their way to half centuries
Taunton: Lancashire Thunder 141-6 v Western Storm 139-4 - Western Storm won by six wickets
England colleagues Heather Knight and Fran Wilson staged a brilliant recovery as Western Storm beat Lancashire Thunder by six wickets to extend their 100 per cent record in Kia Super League matches at the Cooper Associates Ground.
Sune Luus top-scored with 62 from 48 balls to help Thunder, seeking their first success in five meetings with Storm, to post a competitive 141-6 after winning the toss and electing to bat on a drying pitch.
But her efforts were eclipsed by Knight and Wilson, who both scored half centuries and staged a restorative stand of 88 in 11.3 overs for the third wicket. Wilson posted 54 from 35 balls, while Knight finished unbeaten on 50 as Storm reached their target with three balls to spare.
Required to chase 142 at 7.1 runs an over, Storm were well and truly up against it after slumping to 18-2 inside four overs, star openers Smriti Mandhana and Rachel Priest both suffering rare failures.
Leading run-scorer in KSL a year ago, India star Mandhana gave Sophie Ecclestone's slow left arm the charge and was superbly caught by compatriot Hermanpreet Kaur at long-on for two. Big-hitting Priest followed two overs later, chipping Emma Lamb's off spin to cover point for 12.
Keeping their cool in trying circumstances, Wilson and Knight saw off the dangerous Ecclestone and proved adept at finding the gaps as they advanced the score to 58-2 at halfway.
Wilson brought up her 50 with her eighth four, only to then offer a return catch to Alex Hartley with 36 more runs needed from 27 balls. Somerset's Sophie Luff calmed any nerves thereafter, scoring 22 from 13 balls to see her side to within sight of victory. Calm under pressure, skipper Knight hit the winning runs, driving Kate Cross to the boundary in the final over to raise 50 from 52 balls.
Desperate to make ammends following back-to-back defeats at the hands of Southern Vipers and Surrey Stars, Thunder were rather more competitive on this occasion, thanks in large part to South African international Luus.
Intent upon establishing herself beneath lowering skies, the 25-year-old all-rounder played a perfectly-paced innings, relying on clever placement and quick running between the wickets before accelarating during the middle overs.
She dominated a progressive second-wicket stand of 66 in 11 overs with Tahlia McGrath, raised her first KSL 50 from 42 balls and then went on the attack, accruing 3 fours and 4 sixes before dancing down the wicket to Nicholas and top-edging to short fine leg in the 15th over with the score on 98-3.
A perfect foil for Luus, McGrath compiled 22 from 30 balls, helping to provide a platform for India World Cup star Hermanpreet Kaur. Finishing the innings with a flourish, Kaur contributed a quickfire 30 from 18 balls, with a quartet of fours, to ensure Thunder posted a meaningful total.
Electing to put their faith in spin on a used pitch, Storm benefitted from taking the pace off the ball, the naggingly accurate trio of Nicholas, Knight and Deepti Sharma returning combined figures of 68-3 from 12 overs.
So often an unsung hero, Welsh off spinner Nicholas claimed 2-25, including 16 dot balls, and weighed in with a catch, while India recruit Sharma kept things tight to finish with 22-1 from four overs.
Courtesy of the ECB reporters network
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