Thunder 203 lost to Southern Vipers 204-6 by six wickets
Emily Windsor backed up her Hundred final heroics to guide Southern Vipers to a fifth straight Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy victory and guarantee a spot in the playoff.
Batter Windsor scored the winning runs at Lord’s last Saturday to give Oval Invincibles back-to-back titles, and at the Ageas Bowl against Thunder she carefully amassed 59 to set up a six-wicket victory.
Before the game, the Ageas Bowl fell silent for an impeccably observed minute’s silence before the national anthem was played to pay tribute to the Queen’s death. Both sets of players also wore black armbands.
When play started, Thunder set 203 mainly thanks to half-centuries from Emma Lamb and Ellie Threlkeld after Tara Norris had ripped the top order apart with three quick wickets.
Vipers stuttered themselves when they slumped to 29 for three but an 89-run stand for the sixth wicket between Windsor and Chloe Hill took the hosts towards the win with three overs to spare.
Having been asked to bowl, Norris ripped through the Thunder top order in the first seven overs to leave the visitors on 23 for three.
Seren Smale suffered a golden duck when she was bowled between bat and pad, Laura Marshall was lbw trying to work to leg and former West Indies international Deandra Dottin was caught behind on the cut.
Norris’s first five-over spell of three for 15 was all the more important with Vipers missing fast bowlers Freya Kemp and Lauren Bell to England and Anya Shrubsole to injury. Georgia Elwiss damaging her back during her three overs didn’t help matters.
Lamb and Threlkeld, who both took their Trophy tally over 200 runs, recovered the situation with a hard-working 119-run stand for the fourth wicket.
Over half of Lamb’s 63 runs came in singles, although broke the mould by lobbing a six down the ground, as she played the role of glue while Threlkeld was able to pepper the leg-side boundary.
They both brought up their fifties in quick succession – Lamb first in 70 balls for her third half-century of the tournament, and Threlkeld in 55 deliveries.
Their partnership was the only one of note as the next highest scorer was Daisy Mullen with 13.
Paige Scholfield ended it by finding Lamb tossing to mid-on before trapping Shachi Pai next ball. There was to be no hat-trick but Vipers were back in control and would polish off the innings with nine balls to spare.
Lauren Heap was stumped, Threlkeld picked out long-on, Mullan was run out after good work from Alice Monaghan, Laura Jackson was caught and bowled by Charlie Dean and Phoebe Graham skewed to point.
Vipers had found themselves 38 for five in their previous match here, against Sunrisers, before recovering to victory, so 29 for three was an improvement.
Ella McCaughan drove to point, with a lack of footwork her downfall, Elwiss skied an attempted pull shot behind and Dean, promoted to open, was bowled by the accurate Jackson.
Georgia Adams had pointed her side in the right direction with 20, during a 42-run stand with Scholfield, before holing out to deep midwicket before Scholfield was lbw to Pai soon after to leave Vipers 100 for five just over the halfway point.
But Windsor, who also scored the winning runs in last year’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final, kept her calm and reached a 60-ball fifty, with an advance to dispatch down the ground her most eye-catching moment.
Hill, who had saved Vipers against Sunrisers, accompanied her well with an unbeaten 43. Despite Windsor falling with 15 runs still to get, Norris’s 12 not out eased any nerves.
Southern Vipers bowler Tara Norris said: “We had to dig deep and that shows the depth in our team. We were short of our England players but again it shows with our squad we don’t need our England players. When we have them we take full advantage but the way we played today shows the depth.
“I am delighted with the early three wickets. Coming off the long Hundred it was great to be back bowling and playing with the Vipers today.
“I haven’t played for six weeks so there were definitely a few nerves this morning but I was so excited to be out with the girls
“Lamb and Threlkeld batted well so hats off to them. It was a slow period there but one wicket brought two. We had a slight little drop in momentum and the one wicket changed everything for us.
“Emily Windsor gets us out of a lot of trouble. She did her thing and Hilly did well to support her.”
Thunder captain Ellie Threlkeld said: “We were probably 20 or 30 short but at the same time I feel like we could have defended that score. We moved away from our best ball a little bit too early and allowed them to get that partnership going. I think that Windsor and Hill partnership was really key to get them over the line.
“Laura Jackson and Phoebe Graham bowled really well for us today, we probably just needed the other bowlers to bowl a little tighter.
“It wasn’t the most ideal start with the bat but the way we went about the rebuild was brilliant. We were in a pretty comfortable position and in an ideal world I would have gone on and been a set batter at the end and finished off the innings stronger.
“It was good to get a few runs today but I was disappointed with the way I got out.
“We’ve lost a few of our senior girls. We were always unlikely to make the finals so for us this is a good opportunity to play the future of our team and give a few youngsters a bit of a chance.”
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