Loughborough Lightning, playing their second game in three days on the same strip at Loughborough, just managed to cling on for a five run win over Western Storm despite a heroic knock of 74 (46b) from Storm skipper Heather Knight.
Lightning had posted a daunting 158/8 thanks in the main to an 83 run partnership between Amy Jones (46) and Ellyse Perry (44). Lightning had made a good start through Dane van Niekerk (18), but she was one of three wickets to fall in the powerplay, leaving them on 31/3. Jones and Perry steadied the ship until the tenth over, by which time they had moved the score to 53/3, but they then took 61 off the next six overs, before Freya Davies had Jones neatly stumped by Rachel Priest. Perry went not long after, but Eve Jones hit a powerful 25 off 14 balls to keep the momentum going for the Lightning, who finished on 158/8.
The Storm needed a good start in the powerplay, but tight bowling from Sonia Odedra (2/20) and van Niekerk (1/28) kept them down to just 27 for the loss of Stafanie Taylor and then Priest, bowled heaving at Becky Grundy. Knight and Fran Wilson (21) took the score to 70/2 after 11 overs, with the Storm still needing almost 10 an over to win. It was Knight's cue to really get going, regularly finding the boundary all around the ground. Unfortunately Storm had no-one to match her hitting ability. Wilson fell trying to hit straight over the top and Lizelle Lee edged behind for a duck. Georgia Hennessy joined her skipper with 54 still needed off five overs. 15, including a pulled 6 from Knight, off the 17th over from the previously parsimonious Odedra, reduced the equation to 32 from 18 balls, and the Storm looked like they might be in with a sniff of a dramatic win. But only eight came from the next over from van Niekerk and then seven from the 19th from Elwiss, which also ended with the unfortunate run out of Knight at the bowler's end, as Elwiss deflected a Hennessy drive onto the stumps. It left 17 required off the last over without Knight and it proved just too much.
It meant that Lightning's campaign was back on track with two wins from three games played and Storm are now one and one after two games. Storm meet Surrey Stars at Bristol on Sunday and Lightning next play at home again against Surrey Stars next Friday. On this showing both teams probably deserve a place in Finals' Day, but it is no foregone conclusion that either will make it.
Loughborough Lightning 158/8
Amy Jones 48, Ellyse Perry 46, Eve Jones 25, Anya Shrubsole 2/26
Western Storm 153/5
Heather Knight 74, Sonia Odedra 2/20
full scorecard here