A stand of 81 between Jenny Gunn and Alex MacDonald gave Northern Diamonds a narrow win in a tight game where neither side gave in. In the end, they won by six runs. It was a game that could have gone either way and it was Northern Diamonds that prevailed.
It would always take a phenomenal effort to defend a total of 151, but on a pitch that held up and a disciplined performance with the ball, anything was possible.
Diamonds got that early on as Katherine Brunt bagged a brace of Bryces. Sarah was first to go, bowled from the third ball. Katherine Bryce followed early in the third over caught behind.
It looked bleak for Lightning; all their hard work was undone in the space of eight Brunt deliveries. Lightning still had an international hero of their own. Tammy Beaumont has been in difficult run chases before, and that experience would be needed as she batted alongside a young set of players.
Beaumont scored 57 against Southern Vipers on Saturday, and Lightning were hoping for something similar today. It wasn’t to be, though, as Beaumont was adjudged lbw for 21 to her international teammate Nat Sciver.
Northern Diamonds chipped away at the Lighting line-up, even though the run-rate never rose much above three; finding the boundary was challenging work. The Greaves twins of Teresa and Yvonne steadied the innings with a valuable partnership of 17 for the eighth wicket.
It took Lightning past the hundred mark, with 40 runs needed from the last ten overs. Graves and Gordon were still watchful; they took the singles and punished the bad balls. Although Graves went, trying to clear mid-on from Brunt’s last over, it looked like Lightning’s final chance had gone.
Sophie Munro then cleared point with her first shot, and suddenly Lightning needed only singles figures to win from the final two overs.
Munro could not complete the job, though. She feathered an edge behind to seal the win for Diamonds. Beth Langston took the final wicket.
Earlier in the day, Northern Diamonds were – at one stage – on the verge of not managing to scale the heights of 100.
Lightning had won the toss and inserted the Diamonds on a slow pitch, and the way the Diamonds top-order folded suggested this, as deliveries stopped on them and the inner circle took some simple catches.
Gunn and MacDonald came together with their side 50 for 6, and set about holding the innings together. They were ready to thwart Lightning again. At Leicester, they were Diamonds’ top scores. And again, they did the business.
Kathryn Bryce was the star with the ball with four for 16, although her bowlers also did a job. Kirstie Gordon may have been wicketless, but she only conceded 25 runs.
After the defeat for Diamonds on Saturday against Central Sparks, another defeat after putting themselves in a winning position would have been mortifying.
This defeat will hurt Lightning, who are still searching for their first win of the year. There were encouraging signs, and how the lower order is digging in bodes well for when the top order fires.