Western Storm 160 for 5 (Mandhana 72) beat Lancashire Thunder 159 for 8 (Harmanpreet 50, Shrubsole 3-36) by five wickets
Western Storm continued their perfect start to the Kia Super League with a thrilling five-wicket win over winless Lancashire Thunder at Chester Boughton Hall.
Smriti Mandhana‘s superb 72 from just 43 balls was the mainstay of the Storm’s successful chase of 160 as the 2017 champions made it six wins from six. Deepti Sharma struck the winning boundary off the penultimate ball.
Harmanpreet Kaur earlier made a half-century for Lancashire, sharing an 85-run stand with Tahlia McGrath, but it ultimately was not enough to secure victory.
Mandhana and Rachel Priest got Storm’s chase off to a flyer, reaching 39 in the fifth over. Priest hit Kate Cross for a six straight down the ground before the England seamer responded as Priest was caught by Kaur for 19.
But Mandhana’s innings was effortlessly brilliant. She scored all around the ground, demonstrating power and timing to take 16 from Sophie Ecclestone in the sixth over to end the Powerplay at 57 for 1.
The left-hander’s half-century came from just 27 balls, with eight fours and that six, and she just kept going. Mandhana put on 67 with Heather Knight – the England captain contributing just 11 before she was caught in the deep off Ecclestone in the 13th over.
At 106 for 2, that breakthrough gave Lancashire hope. And they built on that as Emma Lamb got the key wicket of Mandhana for 72, caught by Harmanpreet on the boundary to leave Storm 119 for 3 in the 15th over.
Alex Hartley then dismissed Fran Wilson for 14 and Lancashire were right in the contest, with Storm requiring 32 from the final 24 balls. But Deepti saw the visitors home with the winning boundary coming off Cross’ penultimate delivery of the match.
Two boundaries came from the first three balls of the Thunder innings before England star Anya Shrubsole struck twice in consecutive deliveries to trap Sune Luus lbw for 4 and dismiss Sophia Dunkley for a first-ball duck.
McGrath played the anchor role in her partnership with Harmanpreet, allowing the India star to offer the firepower. Harmanpreet launched Sonia Odedra for the first six of the match in the seventh over and the fifty partnership came up in the ninth.
Odedra returned to the attack to be smashed for another six by Harmanpreet and her half-century came from just 36 balls. But she fell to the next delivery as Alex Griffiths held a sensational one-handed catch, back-pedalling at mid-off.
Georgie Boyce then departed for a duck, removed by Knight who also did for Emma Lamb after a breezy 18 from 10 balls to leave Lancashire 121 for 5 with four overs remaining. Shrubsole returned to claim her third wicket and end McGrath’s innings at 44 from 45 balls and Ellie Threlkeld was run out by Knight as the wickets tumbled.
Ecclestone provided some valuable late acceleration, launching Shrubsole over the sight screen to take 12 from the penultimate over, and alongside Kate Cross added 24 from the final two overs.