Georgia Adams, Charlotte Dean shine as Vipers finish on top after first leg of RHF Trophy

Georgia Adams, Teresa Graves, Evelyn Jones. © Getty

The final day of the first leg of the Rachael HeyHoe Flint (RHF) Trophy 2021 finished all four chasing teams coming out on top. Southern Vipers lead the points table with 14 points, followed by Central Sparks and Northern Diamonds with 13 and Lightning with nine at fourth place. 

The Sunrisers opted to bat against Lightning, hoping to register their first win. However, the Lightning bowlers tightened the screws by getting rid of the top three within the first ten overs. The Sunrisers were struggling at 30 for three. Cordelia Griffith and Naomi Dattani tried to revive the innings with a 60-run stand before the former getting out to Teresa Graves. 

 Joined by Kelly Castle, Dattani kept the innings going for the Sunrisers. The duo brought up their respective half-centuries and took the team close to the 200-run mark. However, Graves had other ideas. The 22-year-old ran through the lower-middle-order and helped to restrict the Sunrisers to 206 for nine after 50 overs. She finished with four for 39 in her ten overs.

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Despite losing the Bryce sisters early on, Michaela Kirk and Abigail Freeborn kept Lightning in the chase. While the former made 57 from 66 balls, Freeborn fell six runs short of her fifty. By the time she got out to Joanne Gardner, they were inches away from victory. Graves hit the winning runs as the Lightning chased the target in 40.2 overs with five wickets to spare. 

Elsewhere, Southern Vipers made a strong comeback with a comfortable eight-wicket victory against Western Storm at Taunton after facing a massive defeat against Sparks in their previous fixture. After opting to bat first, the Storm were in deep trouble as they lost top-order to Charlotte Dean in periodic intervals. Whenever the Storm seemed like building a partnership, the 20-year-old was quick to respond with a wicket. She finished her spell with a miserly three for 27.

With the Storm struggling at 94 for four, Katie George fought a lone battle trying to revive the innings. However, Vipers star Lauren Bell came back for her second spell and took three quick wickets. The Storm scrapped their way to 177 and were, eventually, all out in the final over of the innings.

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Chasing less than four runs an over, Vipers skipper Georgia Adams and Dannielle Wyatt provided a good start. Once Wyatt got out, Adams joined with Maia Bouchier and ensured that the Storm were out of the contest. When Adams got out to 77 from 101 balls, they need 24 runs to win. Bouchier remained unbeaten till the end and took the Vipers to the top of the table. 

At Worcester, Evelyn Jones’s century went in vain as the Sparks lost to Thunder in a close finish by two wickets. Batting first, Jones kept losing her partners early on. At one point, they were down to 17 for three. Jones tried to build a partnership with Stephanie Butler, but the Thunder bowlers kept pegging away with wickets at periodic intervals. 

Unfazed by all this, Jones remained not out till the end and single-handedly took the team past the 200-run mark. She finished with a 150-ball 100 as the Sparks were all out for 203 in the penultimate delivery of the innings. Hannah Jones and Laura Jackson picked up three wickets apiece.

Chasing close to four runs an over, the Thunder top-order provided them with a solid start. However, a middle-order collapse meant that the match was going to the wire. From 81 for two, they slumped to 139 for six. Laura Marshall and Laura Jackson stitched a crucial partnership and kept them alive in the chase.

While Marshall made 30 runs from 55 balls, Jackson scored a 53-ball 32 before getting out to Issy Wong. Danielle Collins and skipper Alex Hartley held their nerve to take the team across the line. Georgia Davis was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets for 42 runs.

In the day-night fixture at Leeds, the Diamonds registered their third consecutive win of the tournament with a three-wicket win against the Stars. After choosing to bat first, the Stars openers got them off to a good start. Their skipper Bryony Smith and Alice Davidson-Richards added 50 runs together before the latter got out to Jenny Gunn. Three balls later, Smith fell for a 37-ball 31.

However, Chloe Brewer and Kirstie White kept the momentum going for the stars. Though Brewer fell for 25 runs from 44 balls, White built partnerships with subsequent batters. She scored 73 runs from 91 balls before falling to Beth Langston. The Stars were stuttering at 203 for six.

A swashbuckling 47-run partnership from Aylish Cranstone and Phoebe Franklin took the Stars to 250 for six by the end of the innings. While Cranstone smashed 42 from 31 balls, the latter scored an unbeaten 25-ball 28.

Coming on the back of back-to-back wins, the Diamonds were high on confidence. Although the openers provided a steady start, they lost wickets in quick succession in the middle overs. Sterre Kalis held fort one end and kept the innings going for the Diamonds.

Sarah Taylor, who played her first RHF Trophy fixture coming back from her retirement, did not have a great outing with the bat. Joined by Gunn, Kalis took the Diamonds from 70 for five to 160 for six before the former got out for a well made 50 from 70 balls.

Langston, who came in at eight, took the attack to the Stars bowlers. She smashed a quick 53-ball 59. Kalis, at the other end, made a patient 76 off 103 balls before getting run out. Langston remained not out till the end, as the Diamonds chased the target with four balls to spare.

Brief Scores: 

Sunrisers – 206/9 in 50 overs (Naomi Dattani 65 (92); Teresa Graves 4/39) lost to Lightning – 210/5 in 40.2 overs (Michaela Kirk 57 (66); Kelly Castle 2/24) by five wickets.

Western Storm – 177/10 in 49.3 overs (Katie George 37 (60), Charlotte Dean 3/27) lost to Southern Vipers – 178/2 in 34.5 overs (Georgia Adams 77 (101); Fi Morris 1/37) by eight wickets.

Central Sparks – 203/10 in 49.5 (Evelyn Jones 100 (151); Hannah Jones 3/33) lost to Thunder – 205/8 in 48 overs (Emma Lamb 39 (47); Georgia Davis 3/42) by two wickets.

South East Stars – 250/6 in 50 overs (Kirstie White 73 (90); Jenny Gunn 2/45) lost to Northern Diamonds – 254/7 in 49.2 overs (Sterre Kalis 76 (103); Danielle Gregory 2/31) by three wickets.