Loughborough Lightning travelled south to The Kia Oval for their final group game of the 2017 Kia Super League, running out convincing winners over league leaders Surrey Stars.
The hosts were unbeaten heading into their final league game, knowing a win would see them head into Finals as favourites, whilst Lightning required a win to have any chance of qualifying for Finals Day.
Lightning Head Coach Salliann Briggs named an unchanged team, with Abbey Freeborn retaining her place as Amy Jones’ finger injury ruled her out once again. Captain Georgia Elwiss won the toss and elected to bat, with Sarah Glenn and Elyse Villani to open once again.
Glenn was unfortunately dismissed for no score in the first over, as she mistimed a pull shot off Laura Marsh up in the air to mid-on. However, as Perry joined her Australian team-mate at the crease, the pair continued to add 86 for the second wicket. After a quiet start to the tournament, Villani demonstrated her class as she smashed her way to 71 off just 39 balls, including three sixes and ten fours. She was dropped on 21 by Sophia Dunkley, but batted with great positivity to reach her 50 in the eighth over with a huge six off England’s Alex Hartley.
Following her dismissal, Perry, who played a largely supportive role at the beginning of her innings, began to find her rhythm as she cruised to a second consecutive half-century. She reached her 50 with a glorious six over long-off in the 19th over, and alongside Thea Brookes began to place great pressure upon the bowling side as they struck Hartley for a maximum each in the latter stages of the innings. The pair rotated the strike excellently in the final overs, as Perry finished with a brilliant 68* to conclude the innings on 171-3, surpassing the 140 against Lancashire Thunder the sides highest total in the competition so far.
England’s World Cup star Tammy Beaumont and South Africa’s Lizelle Lee opened the batting for the hosts as they began their monumental chase. Kristen Beams continued her fine form as she claimed Beaumont lbw in the third over of the game, and the wickets then continued to tumble with regularity due to an impressive performance in the field.
Perry backed up her batting performance brilliantly with figures of 2-14 as she dismissed both Lee and Kapp, with the hosts struggling to 25-3 after the Powerplay. Natalie Sciver continued to bat positively as the wickets continued to fall around her, but was eventually bowled by Glenn for 24 off 18 balls, leaving the score at 54-4 at the halfway stage, and the required run rate therefore increasing rapidly. Glenn (2-5), Langston (2-16) and Grundy (2-11) then wrapped up a comprehensive victory, as the pressure mounted and the Stars collapsed to 90 all out.
Despite the thrilling victory, results elsewhere dictated that Lightning were unable to qualify for the Finals Day, but captain Georgia Elwiss was able to take plenty of positives from the performance.
“We were absolutely brilliant with the bat and Villani set the tone so well to take the pressure off Pez at the other end. Whilst it’s obviously disappointing not to make Finals Day, I’m so pleased for the youngsters like Lucy Higham and Sarah Glenn, who have really taken their chances and proven their worth at this level.”
The Kia Super League Finals Day will take place on the 1st of September, and will be between Surrey Stars, Western Storm and Southern Vipers.