Loughborough Lightning headed to Blackpool Cricket Club for their fourth game of the Kia Super League, desperately needing a win against Lancashire Thunder and they duly delivered with a clinical 50 run victory.
In fact both Thunder and Lightning were eager for victory, neither side having managed a victory in the tournament so far. Lightning were unfortunately without star wicket-keeper and opening batsman Amy Jones due to a fractured finger, allowing Sussex’s Abi Freeborn to make her first appearance in the side.
Captain Georgia Elwiss won the toss once more and elected to bat first, with Sarah Glenn to join Villani at the top of the order in place of the injured Jones. The start was not ideal as Villani was dismissed in the first over, as she skied a delivery from Kate Cross to Emma Lamb at cover, bringing Perry to the crease early.
Glenn was off the mark in style in Cross’ second over however, as she launched the ball straight over her head for the first maximum of the innings. The 17-year-old then continued to dominate as she worked her way to a blistering 22 off 21 balls, before she was out in the seventh over to England’s Danielle Hazell.
A few quick wickets fell in the middle overs, as Elwiss (5), Odedra (1) and Brookes (6) all fell cheaply, but Perry remained unmoved as she reached her 50 in the 15th over. Debutant Abi Freeborn played her supporting role excellently in the closing overs as the pair rotated the strike frequently to place great pressure upon the opposition. Perry smashed glorious consecutive boundaries off Ecclestone in the final over to finish with a classy 78 not out off 57 balls, with Freeborn finishing with a well-made 16 not out. The innings ended with the score on 140, leaving Thunder with a difficult chase at seven runs an over.
The defence started perfectly as Perry’s excellent day continued, sending the stumps flying to bowl Emma Lamb for two in the second over. Both Beams and Perry bowled tightly in the opening overs, building good pressure for Perry to strike yet again in the fourth as England star Sarah Taylor was adjudged lbw for just four. Having lost two of their biggest names, Lightning continued to restrict the flow of runs as the score reached 28-2 after the first 6 overs, with young Lucy Higham and Georgia Elwiss bowling brilliantly in tandem.
Higham was eventually rewarded for her tight bowling as she struck in the tenth over as New Zealand’s Amy Satterthwaite was stumped by Freeborn for 21, leaving the opposition struggling at 48-3. As the wickets continued to tumble, Sarah Glenn’s day continued to get better, as she claimed the wickets of Eve Jones (17) and Australia’s Jess Jonassen (9), with Higham and Villani taking the catches. A fine fielding performance was cemented by Villani’s phenomenal diving catch at long-on off the bowling of Becky Grundy, as opposition captain Hazell was dismissed for 2.
With 78 required off the final 6 overs, the momentum was entirely in the favour of the bowlers as Beth Langston struck twice in her first over to dismiss Miles and Ecclestone, leaving Thunder eight wickets down in the 15th over. Despite a late counter-attack from Ellie Threlkeld (18), the run-rate was simply too much to ask of the Thunder batsmen, as they finished 90 all out and Lightning won by 50 runs.
Ellyse Perry was unsurprisingly awarded the Player of the Match for her 78 not out and figures of 2-9. It was an impressive and dominant performance from Lightning to record their first victory of the competition in fine style.
Speaking after the game, Head Coach Salliann Briggs highlighted the performances of Perry, Glenn and Freeborn in the clinical victory.
I was incredibly pleased how the girls constructed their performance after such a tough start to the competition. Pez batted brilliantly, and I was particularly pleased for Sarah Glenn, who built a key opening partnership, and Abbey Freeborn who supported Pez to take us to an above par score of 140.
It was clear that Briggs believes the girls have more to give, and is excited for the challenge of another away game against Surrey Stars in the final group game on Saturday.