Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at the Ageas Bowl
Southern Vipers 233-9 beat Sunrisers 222-8 by 11 runs
Charlie Dean returned from England duty to claim three wickets as two-time winners Southern Vipers professionally remained unbeaten in this year’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
Off-spinner Dean was the leading wicket-taker in the recent WODI series against South Africa and brought that form to the Ageas Bowl with a tight three for 31.
Georgia Elwiss also picked up two for 50 as the ruthless Vipers turned python to strangle winless Sunrisers to an 11-run defeat, despite Cordelia Griffith maintaining her form with 65.
Earlier, Kate Coppack claimed four for 48, after a seven-over opening spell of four for 37, to leave Vipers 38 for five inside nine overs. But Paige Scholfield and Chloe Hill’s maiden half-centuries at this level resuscitated the hosts to a defendable 233.
Vipers have got themselves into a pickle a few times this season. They were 35 for three and 74 for four, against South East Stars before clocking up 306, and against Thunder, they lost three wickets for two runs, albeit after a 153-run opening stand.
So, when Coppack had quaffed the top order with a relentlessly accurate four for 37 to leave Vipers 38 for five, having chosen to bat first, there wouldn’t have been the cataclysmic worries that other teams would have faced.
Mady Villiers was the first to strike when she had Georgia Adams lbw when trying to work the ball into the legside. Then Coppack, raised in Cheshire and with international wickets for Peru, flung into action.
The fast bowler only had four wickets in her first eight Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy appearances but had Dean leg before in her third over before bowling former international Georgia Elwiss through the gate.
Scholfield may have scythed the hat-trick ball to point but Ella McCaughan chipped to midwicket and Emily Windsor flashed a drive to slip to give Coppack her third and fourth.
The inevitable recovery came in the form of a 105-run stand between Scholfield and Hill. The former took a punchy attacking route out of the collapse by pummelling the short boundary with flicks and cuts.
There were moments of style, most notably a glorious cover drive early on and a slog sweep off Grace Scrivens. A swept six off a full toss was also included on her way to a 42-ball fifty.
Hill, on loan from Central Sparks, was less dapper, but her stickability complemented Scholfield. Her own half-century came in a sedate 103 deliveries, with five either straight or pulled boundaries coming in her 55.
After Scholfield holed out to deep midwicket for 74, Tara Norris joined Hill for a 51-run stand. The USA international was run out trying to get Hill to her milestone, with Hill and Lauren Bell dismissed before the 50-overs were up.
Sunrisers steadfastly refused to take risks in the chase and therefore the modest rate got away from them – as proved with only 28 runs coming in the first 10 overs.
Griffith, on the back of 74 against Western Storm, was unflappable in the 74 balls needed to reach back-to-back fifties. Naomi Dattani’s 34 only included a pair of boundaries but plentiful nudges, with 74 added with Griffith.
Dean had earlier bowled Scrivens with her second delivery and would now have both Dattani and Villiers bowled.
Having struck five boundaries in her first 56 balls, Griffith failed to hit another in her further 53 deliveries to highlight the problems Sunrisers were having timing the softer balls on a slow wicket.
After a game of Mankad cat-and-mouse with Elwiss, she was leg before to Adams, before Elwiss bowled Mia Rogers.
Jo Gardner bashed 43 off 45 in a 56 stand with Jess Olorenshaw to give Sunrisers a glimpse of stealing back the win. But Bell bowled Olorenshaw in the penultimate over and Adams comfortably defended 17 off the last over.
Southern Vipers all-rounder Paige Scholfield said: “It got a bit scary at one point but we back the girls to get us out of situations. We bat and ball so deep so we are always confident in what we can do.
“I wasn’t expecting to come in that early! It wasn’t the start we wanted to get off to but we bat deep. I stuck to my gameplan and it worked today.
“I wanted to just play my game, play strong shots and play whatever was delivered to me. Me and Chloe discussed that we needed to still be out there at drinks regardless of the total.
“I felt good today. I guess it was my day.
“Deano is a class bowler and knows her game very well. She puts it on the spot and we value her a lot. Having her back has helped massively.”
Sunrisers bowler Kate Coppack said: “We had a really great start with the ball but they batted really well in the middle but it never got away from us. We were confident going into the batting but unfortunately we couldn’t get over the line.
“It was coming out nicely. I had a few plans for a few of the batters and they came to fruition so I’m really happy with that.
“It feels good to get a few big names out and compete at such a high level. I like the 50-over format as I can set a batter up.
“It came out nicely and the pitch was good for me with a bit of pace, bounce and nip off the pitch.
“Griffith played the anchor role well and it was unlucky she lost her wicket at that point. We felt like we had the firepower to win but ultimately we are disappointed.
“We are proud of how close we took the top team. Not getting that win is so frustrating but we are close. We are much closer than last year. It will take a little bit of luck to get us over the line but we will get there.”