Thunder hammer Diamonds to book Finals Day place

3 months ago 28
Thunder batter Fi Norris in actionFi Norris hit her second successive score of more than 40 in the Charlotte Edwards Cup against Northern Diamonds

Thunder beat Northern Diamonds by seven wickets to reach Finals Day in the Charlotte Edwards Cup, and all but end their opponents' hopes of qualifying.

Diamonds' innings never got going as they were bowled out for 96 with eight balls of their 20 overs remaining.

Needing to reach their target within 16 overs to leapfrog Diamonds into second spot, Thunder raced to 97-3 off 15 to seal their semi-final place.

Fi Morris (42 not out) led the charge as Thunders made it four wins in five.

Northern Diamonds could still qualify but they would need winless Sunrisers to beat defending champions Southern Vipers by a huge margin in the 19:00 BST game.

In the two other games, fifth-placed Western Storm's outside chance of a top-three finish ended with defeat by seven wickets to unbeaten group winners The Blaze by in Cardiff.

And in Canterbury, South East Stars held off Central Sparks' challenge to win by six runs with neither side able to qualify for the knock-out phase.

Fragile batting costs Diamonds dear

Diamonds came into the final group match four points clear of Thunder in the last qualification place in the table and just needing to avoid any carelessness to be certain of making the semi-final at New Road on Saturday.

But cracks soon appeared as three wickets were lost in seven balls for four runs - including captain, and second-leading run scorer in the competition, Hollie Armitage for a duck - leaving them 15-3 in the third over.

They lost wickets regularly against Thunder's disciplined attack and with seven down, three more quickly followed - again in seven balls for four runs - as Scotland off-spinner Olivia Bell finished with a career-best 3-9.

Inspired by their performance in the field, Thunder's batters attacked their 16-over target with gusto as they cracked 28 off their first three overs.

They never surrendered the momentum with Morris spearheading the run chase with a classy unbeaten knock off 34 balls to ensure Thunder picked up four points for the win and the crucial bonus point that lifted them above a dejected Diamonds, who slipped out of the top three following a third straight defeat.

Blaze complete perfect group record with seventh win

Western Storm went into their match in Cardiff facing the daunting task of pulling off a bonus-point win over unbeaten group winners Blaze to stand any chance of finishing in the top three.

But they found Blaze in no mood to take their foot off the gas after six straight wins as Kathryn Bryce produced a superb all-round performance to carry the visitors home.

First she was the pick of the bowlers as her 2-17 off four overs helped restrict Storm to 134-7 off their 20 overs with Emma Corney's 23 off 32 balls the main contribution and some late impetus from Alex Griffiths (19 off 19 balls) and Sophia Smale (10 off 6) at least giving them something to bowl at.

The Blaze's top three gave their run chase a solid start before Bryce took charge as she constructed a lovely half-century, full of sweet timing and deft touches, to anchor her side home to 137-3 with eight balls left, finishing 54 not out off 37 deliveries with six fours and a six.

Runs flow as Stars edge out Sparks

Two half-centuries and some fast scoring were the highlights as South East Stars and Central Sparks served up an entertaining dead rubber in Kent.

Stars' Phoebe Franklin cracked 52 off just 27 balls, with seven fours and two sixes, and captain Bryony Smith's 47 off 28, with eight boundaries and one six, got Stars up to a competitive 176-6.

It might have been even more but for Sparks' skipper Georgia Davis' outstanding 3-12 amid the carnage.

Davis then watched her side give their victory chase a good go, reaching 119-5 with seven overs left and 58 runs needed.

Katie George then marshalled the lower order brilliantly on her way to a fantastic half-century and got Sparks' target down to 10 off the final over.

After taking two off the first ball, Hannah Baker was run out attempting a second run off the next before George was last out caught in the deep by Claudie Cooper off Smith (3-23) for a 34-ball 53 with 36 of her runs coming in boundaries.

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