Southern Vipers polish off the Northern Diamonds to book cup final place

Southern Vipers v Northern Diamonds at the Ageas Bowl
Northern Diamonds 141-4 lost to Southern Vipers 144-4 by six wickets

Sweet hitting from Danni Wyatt and Georgia Adams ensured the Southern Vipers completed the Charlotte Edwards Cup group stage with a 100 per cent record – and ended the Northern Diamonds’ involvement.

England opener Wyatt thrashed an exhilarating 35 off 16 balls before Adams all but finished off the job with 47 – with Vipers already qualified straight to next Saturday’s final at Wantage Road, Northampton.

Nat Sciver had celebrated her marriage to Katherine Brunt with a classy fifty in her first match since the couple’s nuptials – as Diamonds set 141 in a game they needed to win to hold any hope of progressing.

But Wyatt and Adams knocked off the runs with 10 balls to spare to celebrate a six-wicket victory and gain atonement for losing out to the Diamonds in last year’s Eliminator.

Wyatt was ostentatious. First ball: cut forcefully. Second ball: driven square with power. Fourth ball: advance and splice over point. Sixth ball: smashed over cover. Seventh ball: guided down to the third ropes. All five balls went to the boundary as the experienced batter rushed to 21 in seven balls.

She used Sciver’s pace to find fours on either side of the wicket but her fun ended in the fourth over when she anti-climactically cut Katie Levick to point. The devastating damage of 35 from 16 balls had been done.

Georgia Adams was given two lives – a steepling chance dropped and then a missed stumping – during a scratchy start to her innings while Ella McCaughan was also twice put down.

Adams struck herself into form with a straight six shadowed by three languid swings to the boundary in the following five balls. She was dropped again but made sure the Vipers’ chase was in complete control.

Her luck ran out when she was caught at square leg before Charlie Dean was caught and bowled two balls later. But McCaughan and Freya Kemp knocked off the final 16 runs in front of 2,400 spectators at the Ageas Bowl.

Earlier, having been asked to bowl, Vipers’ Dean took her competition tally to 10 wickets as she pinched the early wickets of Bess Heath and Stere Kalis. The off-spinner returned figures of two for 24.

Sciver largely went under the radar as she quietly crept her score upwards. Her first three boundaries were all helped around the corner, before finally showing her more usual bombast by powering through midwicket.

She unleashed herself with back-to-back fours off England hopeful Lauren Bell – firstly straight and then freeing her arms through point. A superb scoop took her boundary count to seven as she reached a half-century in 37 balls before she was run out by Maia Bouchier’s direct hit.

Armitage was also circumspect, punishing width and shortness with disdain, during her 69-run stand with Sciver. She ended up unbeaten on 48 as the Diamonds finished up on 141 for four – with 15 coming off the 20th over.

Southern Vipers captain Georgia Adams, who scored her season-best 47, said: “It is brilliant to get another win today. We didn’t want to get complacent and we knew even though we’ve been undefeated that the Diamonds were going to come at us hard. To go out and play the way we did was really good.

“They got one over on us last summer so we’ll take that. We showed how much depth we have in our squad. We’ve had players coming in and out and each game someone different has stepped up. We’ve had youngsters break into the side and had a selection headache every single game. We have a good balance of experienced and fearless cricketers.

“It is always great to score runs, especially in a home game. It probably wasn’t the best I felt in the middle but I’m not in a position to be fussy.

“Sciver getting run out was a game-changing moment for us. It was a brilliant piece of fielding from Maia. That was the point we knew we needed to go hard and restrict them.”

Northern Diamonds all-rounder Nat Sciver said: “We needed to do our job first and then there was a possibility we could make finals day with other results. I thought we had a good score at the halfway stage, but we could have got a few more if I’d stayed in a bit longer.

“They kept coming at us. They got ahead of the rate, then we’d take a wicket and then the next person would take over and we could stem the runs.

“I don’t know if the slow start to my innings was fully down to the pitch. The dream is to feel in straight away with everything coming off the middle of the bat but sometimes it doesn’t. They bowled in good areas and set the field for where they wanted us to hit it so you had to do something different and we probably didn’t go to early enough.

“I’ve been a bit stop and starty with my training then we both (she and Brunt) had covid so we were off for a couple of weeks. It doesn’t feel like my preparation has been that great so I’m very happy to get to fifty.

“I think you need three deep covers for Danni and she’ll still probably get a four! She is so hard to bowl at. She will probably hit anything to deep cover whatever the line is – that is her strength.”

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