Dunkley, Wyatt, Shrubsole, Glenn star on the opening day of RHF Trophy 2021

Sophia Dunkley (L) and Danielle Wyatt (R) © Getty Images/ Women's CricZone

Kristie Gordon’s valiant four-wicket haul went in vain as Danielle Wyatt’s fifty helped defending champions Southern Vipers start their title defense with a four-wicket win against Lightning at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on the opening day of Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy (RHF Trophy) on Saturday (May 29). Over in Chelmsford, Sophia Dunkley scored a match-winning century as South East Stars beat Sunrisers comprehensively with a 135-run win.

Opting to bat first after Kathryn Bryce won the toss, Lightning started poorly losing Sarah Bryce to a third ball duck. After an initial wobble that saw them being reduced to 77 for five in the 20th over, Tammy Beaumont (57)  formed a partnership of 59 runs with Lucy Higham (32). Late hitting by the Graves sisters, Teresa (32) and Yvonne (22*), helped Lightning go past 200 to finish at 214 for nine in 50 overs.

For Vipers, Tara Norris was the most successful bowler with figures of three for 47 from her ten overs.

In reply, Vipers started with a 60-run stand between Adams and Wyatt. It looked like an easy chase for Vipers before Gordon went through their top order. She removed Adams (28), Wyatt (53), Maia Bouchier (21) and Georgia Elwiss (10) in a fiery spell. She did not get any assistance from other bowlers as Vipers chased down the target in the 47th over with Paige Scholfield taking them home with an unbeaten 38.

Over at the County Ground in Chelmsford, South East Stars dominated the Sunrisers and won by a whopping margin of 135 runs. Stars innings that saw two fifties and a century looked beyond Sunrisers reach after captain Natasha Farrant produced Star’s best figures with a five-wicket haul in the competition’s short history.

Sunrisers captain Amara Carr won the toss and opted to field. Stars’ openers Bryony Smith (59) and Alice Davidson-Richards (53) shared a stand of 107 runs. After the fall of Smith’s wicket, Dunkley came to the crease and continued her rich vein of form in an innings studded with 13 boundaries to the fence.

Grace Gibbs in the lower order played an aggressive cameo of 31 from 21 balls even as Dunkley raced towards her hundred. The duo shared a 51-ball partnership to take Stars to 280. Once Gibbs fell, Dunkley shared another 44-run unbeaten partnership with Rhianna Southby as Stars amassed a mammoth total of 324 for 7 in their 50 overs. She remained not out on 104 from just 93 deliveries.

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In the chase, Farrant went through Sunrisers’ top-order and at one stage they were 44 for 4 in the 11th over. The cautious middle overs batting by Naomi Dattani (47), Mady Villiers (34) and Grace Scrivens (36) only delayed the inevitable as they eventually were bundled out for 189 in the 40th over.

For Stars, Farrant finished with figures of 5 for 33 while Smith chipped in with three wickets.

At the County Ground in Bristol, Thunder witnessed a heartbreaking loss as Emma Lamb’s century went in vain with half-centuries from Heather Knight and Anya Shrubsole taking Western Storm to a thrilling win. The match went to the last ball that saw Western Storm sneak home to a one-wicket win.

Earlier, after Storm won the toss and opted to field, Thunder lost Georgie Boyce and Eleanor Threlkeld in the power play with the score reading only 29. Western Australia’s Piepa Cleary in the company of Lamb steadied the ship with a partnership of 177 runs. Cleary scored 79 before she was castled by Shrubsole. Lamb continued to go for her shots and brought up her century in the 38th over. She fell to a run-out by Knight after hitting Danielle Gibson for a six in the previous ball. Thunder finished with a respectable score of 291 for 8 from their stipulated 50 overs. 

For Storm, Shrubsole was the best bowler on display with figures of 3 for 29 from her ten overs while Georgia Hennessy also picked up three wickets.

In the chase, Knight continued her incredible domestic form and started from where she left off in the last year. She narrowly missed out on a century as Threlkeld took a catch off Cleary with the England skipper on 91. When it looked like Thunder are favorites to win the clash reducing Storm to 202 for 7 in 38.5 overs, Shrubsole in the company of the lower-order took them to 251 before she was left with only Lauren Filer for company. With a few lusty blows, Shrubsole brought Storm closer before finishing the match with a boundary off the last ball. She remained not out on 61 from 41 balls.

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Elsewhere in Headingley, The clash between Northern Diamonds and Central Sparks saw centuries from wicket-keepers of the respective sides, Lauren Winfield-Hill and Amy Jones, and a five-wicket haul for Sparks’ young gun Issy Wong.

Opting to field first, Sparks  removed Hollie Armitage and Natalie Sciver early to leave Diamonds struggling at 38 for 2 in 9.5 overs, Winfield-Hill anchored the innings with her knock of 110 from 26 balls. She was ably supported by Sterre Kalis as the pair shared a 102 runs stand for the third wicket. Katherine Brunt, batting at five, scored an enterprising 43 off 50 balls. Even though Diamonds couldn’t bat out the fifty overs, they were able to post a formidable 279 runs on the board.

For Sparks, Wong was the most successful of the bowlers with figures of 5 for 49 from her ten overs while Stephanie Butler took two wickets.

Chasing 280 to win, Sparks started terribly losing two wickets with just six runs on the board in the third over with both the openers getting out for a duck. Jones then shared a 103-run partnership with Marie Kelly to steady the innings.

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Post Jones’s dismissal in the 36th over with the score reading 164 for 6, Sarah Glenn kept her side in the hunt even as Sparks soon found themselves at 196 for 8 in 40.1 overs. In the company of Emily Arlott, who scored 24 off just 18 ball, she took the contest to the 49th over of the innings and Arlott finished the match off in style with a six of Sciver. Glenn scored 71 off just 52 balls with six hits over the fence.

Brief Scores:

Lightning 214/9 in 50 overs (Tammy Beaumont 57, Teresa Graves 32; Tara Norris 3/47) lost to Southern Vipers 215/6 in 46.5 overs ( Danielle Wyatt 53, Paige Scholfield 38*; Kristie Gordon 4/35) by four wickets

South East Stars 324/7 in 50 overs (Sophia Dunkley 104*, Bryony Smith 59; Kelly Castle 3/40) beat Sunrisers 189/10 in 39.2 overs (Naomi Dattani 47, Grace Scrivens 36; Natasha Farrant 5/33) by 135 runs

Thunder 291/8 in 50 overs (Emma Lamb 121, Piepa Cleary 79; Anya Shrubsole 3/29) lost to Western Storm 295/9 in 50 Overs (Heather Knight 91, Anya Shrubsole 61*; Kate Cross 3/35) by one wicket

Northern Diamonds 279/10 in 49.2 overs (Lauren Winfield-Hill 110, Katherine Brunt 43; Issy Wong 5/49) lost to Central Sparks 283/8 in 48.2 overs (Amy Jones 114, Sarah Glenn 71*; Linsey Smith 3/54) by two wickets