Surrey Stars all-rounder Natalie Sciver got the better of her England teammate Sarah Taylor to guide her side to a 33-run win over Lancashire Thunder at Old Trafford.
Chasing 134, Taylor looked to be playing a guiding hand for her team but her dismissal triggered a remarkable collapse which left the Stars celebrating a second win from two.
Sciver had earlier rescued the Stars’ innings to post a total of 133, which ultimately proved unassailable.
But for much of the Thunder innings it looked like a run chase that was well within their reach. Having lost Emma Lamb in the second over, Taylor came in and began to construct the innings.
Alongside Eve Jones, she pushed the total on to 32-1 at the end of the Powerplay. Jones was the aggressor but fell for 26 from 28 balls in the ninth over. At that point, Taylor picked up the baton and launched Alex Hartley down the ground for six three balls later.
With nine overs remaining, Thunder needed 65 and the general assessment was that it was a chase that they should have been able to manage.
Even when Amy Satterthwaite was bowled by Australian Rene Farrell, the Thunder would have remained confident while Taylor remained to spearhead the innings.
Her dismissal changed the match. She attempted a scoop but only succeeded in picking out Grace Gibbs off Farrell to fall for a brilliantly-made 34 from 29 balls. Much like Jos Buttler’s dismissal in the Lancashire Lightning side, it felt as though the Thunder’s chances went with her.
And so it proved in dramatic fashion. The final seven wickets of the Thunder innings fell in the space of just 27 balls as the Stars surged to a comprehensive 33-run victory.
That collapse included Ellie Threlkeld being stumped off a wide with her first ball faced, before Sophie Ecclestone also departed for a duck as she was trapped by Sciver.
Farrell had done the bulk of the damage and finished with a superb five-wicket haul, claiming 5-26 from her four overs.
That the Stars had a total to bowl at was thanks largely to Sciver’s guiding hand at the end of their innings.
After a bright start in the powerplay, thanks to the excellence of Tammy Beaumont – who made a powerful and elegant 36 from 25 balls – the Stars began to lose their way.
From 50-1 after the first six overs, at the end of the 13th over they had 74-4 and were being pegged back by Lancashire’s pace-off-the-ball approach in the middle overs.
Jess Jonassen had Laura Marsh stumped by Taylor for 11 and that brought Sciver together with Sophia Dunkley-Brown. The pair shared a pivotal 50-partnership from just 33 balls, with Dunkley-Brown run out off the last delivery of the innings. She made 24 from 17 balls but the real controlling knock had come from Sciver.
She had rebuilt the Stars’ innings and put her foot on the accelerator towards the end, including hitting the only six of the innings by dumping Satterthwaite over the rope in the 18th over.
Her 40 from 36 balls was ultimately the difference between the two sides and helped the Stars to a superb win.
Lancashire captain Danielle Hazell bemoaned the way the batting fell apart and singled out Sciver’s innings for Surrey.
“We can’t lose that many wickets for that many runs chasing,” she said. “It’s disappointing and it hurts but it’s clear now that we have to win three games of cricket if we want to get to Finals Day really.
“You need to have somebody in who is going to guide you to the end and that showed in their innings how Nat [Sciver] got them to the end and that was the difference really we didn’t have that player.”
Five-wickets are a rarity in T20 cricket and Farrell was responsible for blowing away the Thunder lower order. She expressed her delight at how the day had gone.
“Everyone bowled really well, great performance by all the girls,” Farrell said.
“I’m happy to take any wickets in a T20 and not get hit for eight-plus runs per over. Happy to get them on the board and sometimes it’s your day and today was mine.
“We knew once we got past Taylor and Satterthwaite and also Jess Jonassen as well, then we were in with a sniff. We just move forward now, onwards and upwards and fingers crossed we are there on finals day.”
Lancashire Thunder face Loughborough Lightning at Blackpool on Sunday knowing that only a win is good enough to keep them in the competition.