In a must-win game for both sides it was the Surrey Stars that produced the more clinical performance as the Lancashire Thunder waved a rather sad farewell to their KSL Finals Day chances.
Having failed to defend 161 against the Western Storm in their last game it was perhaps inevitable that the Stars would opt to bowl first when they won the toss in this one. It produced immediate results when Hayley Matthews' miserable tournament with the bat continued, as she was adjudged lbw to Marizanne Kapp (2/18) for a second ball duck. She clearly felt that she hit it (and may face ECB censure for her protestations to this effect), but when the luck is against you nothing much goes right. After a first over maiden Lea Tahuhu gave Emma Lamb width outside the off stump, allowing her to take 16 off the second over. It was probably Thunder's only bright spot of the afternoon at Guildford, in front of a crowd of probably close to 1,000. Lamb went in the fifth over failing in her attempt at a lofted drive off Kapp again, and being easily caught at mid-off. It meant that Thunder made it to the end of the powerplay on 30/2. They would only add another 72 runs in the next 14 overs as they were strangled by the spin of Alex Hartley (3/11) and Laura Marsh (1/21).
Amy Satterthwaite (34*) and Laura Macleod (17*) were content to knock the ball around and had Hartley taken an easy high return catch off her own bowling to remove Satterthwaite when she was on 10, Thunder probably would have struggled even more. The pair added 38 for the third wicket in 6.4 overs, but collapse was just around the corner. Macleod inside edged a low Hartley full toss onto her stumps; in the same over Deandra Dottin top-edged a sweep third ball to short backward square; next over Danni Wyatt played down the wrong line to Marsh and was bowled; and in the next over Tash Miles was run out after being sent back by her skipper. Thunder were in tatters at 69/6, having been 66/2. Kate Cross' attempts to go aerial then proved fruitless. Dropped at long-on she then lofted another to long-off, off Hartley, and departed. Ellie Threlkeld then became the second run-out victim, again sent back by Satterthwaite and Nat Brown was the third, run out off the last ball attempting a second run. Thunder finished on a disappointing 102/9. Satterthwaite finished on 34* off 43 balls.
Stars knew they had to win, and preferably within 16 overs to claim the extra bonus point. Tammy Beaumont (45*) and Bryony Smith (30) set the ideal platform. They hit 49 in the first six overs, including 10 4s between them. Smith departed in the seventh over, caught on the deep midwicket boundary, but by then her job was done. Nat Sciver, dropped at midwicket when on 1, finally achieved a KSL batting average when she pulled a Matthews' half-tracker straight to Dottin at deep square. It mattered little. Stars were 78/2 in just the eleventh over. Beaumont kept the scoreboard ticking over, despite losing Cordelia Griffith (7) for company, and Stars got over the line with the second ball of the sixteenth over when Kapp hit Satterthwaite for 4.
It means that Thunder effectively join the Diamonds in missing out on Finals Day. Stars kept their hopes alive with their final game on Super Friday (all six teams play) against Loughborough Lightning at Loughborough. They have to win and hope that either Lightning or Storm trip up in their remaining games. Given that Lightning's last game is away against the league-leading Vipers, that is probably not a scenario that the Lightning will want to consider. It means their Friday clash will be full of tension.
Meanwhile, slightly later on Friday, down in Taunton, the Storm will be attempting to seal their place in Finals Day as they take on the Vipers. Should they fail then they will have another attempt on Sunday when they play their last game against Yorkshire Diamonds at Headingley.
The field has narrowed, but all three top spots are still up for grabs for the four teams left in contention.
Lancashire Thunder 102/9
Amy Satterthwaite 34*, Alex Hartley 3/11, Marizanne Kapp 2/18
Surrey Stars 106/3
Tammy Beaumont 45*, Bryony Smith 30
full scorecard here