Central Sparks survive collapse to inch past Stars into Charlotte Edwards final

When Stars skipper Bryony Smith claimed four Sparks wickets in the run chase, an upset was firmly on the cards, but Eve Jones' side snuck over the line


Northampton: South East Stars 104-8, Central Sparks 105-8 - Central Sparks win by two wickets


A devastating opening bowling spell from Issy Wong and Grace Potts blew away South East Stars' top order in the powerplay to put Central Sparks on their way to victory in a thrilling Charlotte Edwards Cup semi-final at Northampton.

But when Stars skipper Bryony Smith claimed four Sparks wickets in the run chase, precipitating a middle-order collapse, an upset was firmly on the cards. Chasing just 105 to win, Sparks lost three wickets in nine balls and stumbled further to 98 for 8 before Emily Arlott smashed a single down the ground to take them over the line in the final over. The victory books Sparks a place in this afternoon's final against Southern Vipers.

Potts, who claimed four wickets in her side's win over Stars earlier this season, again proved her opponents' nemesis with three wickets for 20 while Wong, bowling a probing line and length had figures of 2 for 2 in her first three overs. It left Stars reeling at 25 for 5 at the end of the powerplay.

Wong struck first with the third ball of the match, knocking back Smith's stumps as she attempted a big shot. It brought England batter Sophia Dunkley to the crease who offered Sarah Glenn an easy catch at mid-on.

Aylish Cranstone has been Stars' leading run-scorer this season, striking a half century in the last encounter between these two sides, but there was no repeat performance as she skied a ball from Wong and was well caught by Potts behind square.

Alice Capsey showed few nerves caressing her first ball through the covers but fell soon afterwards when she was bowled by Potts, the fourth Stars wicket in as many overs. Potts then had Phoebe Franklin caught behind by Amy Jones off an attempted cut in the final over of the powerplay.

Kalea Moore and Alice Davidson-Richards led a fightback for the Stars putting on 60 in 57 balls. Davidson-Richards clubbed Glenn straight back down the pitch for four and swept Hannah Baker for four before cutting her for four more to bring up the Stars' 50 in the eleventh over. Dropped in the deep on 14, Moore soon got into her stride though, sweeping the spinners through the gaps and hitting Emily Arlott straight down the ground for six.


Issy Wong was excellent with the ball for Central Sparks (George Wood/Getty Images)

Sarah Glenn though started to find her groove, ending Davidson-Richards' resistance when she bowled her for 29. Moore's innings ended in the penultimate over when she hit an Arlott delivery straight to cover for 34 (42 balls). Kira Chathli was run out before Stars staggered into three figures.

Sparks were determined to make short work of the chase. Wong cut a wide ball from Freya Davies in front of square for four and hit the England seamer for six. Skipper Eve Jones tucked into Emma Jones and dispatched her for four boundaries to take Stars to 23 without loss after two overs.

Stars made a shrewd tactical move, turning to Moore to stem the flow of boundaries with the bowler's off-spin accounting for Wong, bowled for 11.

England keeper Amy Jones found the sweep shot profitable and brought up the Sparks 50 at the end of the powerplay. She fell in the next over for 17 though, hitting Smith straight to Franklin at midwicket who took a good low catch.

Eve Jones (29) also fell to a catch at midwicket in the next over off the bowling of Dani Gregory. When Ami Campbell (1) came down the pitch and was bowled by Smith, Sparks stuttering at 60 for 4. Smith then trapped Gwen Davies lbw and bowled Davina Perrin. With pressure mounting, Moore bowled Abi Freeborn to leave Sparks on 83 for seven in the fourteenth over, still needing 25 to win.

Emily Arlott and Sarah Glenn inched Sparks towards their target before Davidson-Richards picked up the latter’s wicket to leave them on 98 for 8.

Needing seven off the last two overs Arlott struck a boundary off Moore down the ground before taking a single off the last over to seal the win.

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