In what turned out to be the most interesting game on the opening day of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, the Thunder side met the Lightning side in Nottingham amidst cloudy skies. To aid preparations of the national side’s forthcoming series against the West Indies next month, the centrally contracted players were allowed to play in the opening two games for each team. The Thunder side got the benefit of Sophie Ecclestone and Kate Cross being drafted into their side whereas the Lightning side obtained the services of Tammy Beaumont and Kirstie Gordon.
Alex Hartley, the experienced Thunder captain, won the toss and chose to bat first. Her side got into trouble early, losing both their openers and Emma Lamb for just 31 runs in 10.1 overs. Then Elanor Threlkeld, the talented wicket-keeper batter, forged an important partnership with Natalie Brown to rescue the side with a blossoming partnership of 82 runs. Just as they were starting to look dangerous, Natalie Brown was run out against the run of play for 38. Elanor Threlkeld completed her half-century but fell soon after to Sophie Munro for 52. With the score on 146/5, it was left to Sophie Ecclestone to get Thunder to a reasonable score. However, with the side further collapsing from 164/5 to 186/9, her task was made even more difficult. She took her side to over 200 as they finished with 206/9 in their 50 overs. Sophie Ecclestone ended up as the top-scorer of her side with 60 runs off 61 balls while Elanor Threlkeld scored 52 off 82 deliveries. Among the bowlers, Sophie Munro claimed three important wickets.
Chasing 207 for victory, Lightning lost opener Tammy Beaumont early. However, the other opener, Sarah Bryce, was joined by her sister, Katheryn Bryce, as they forged a partnership of 52 runs. With the score on 72, Katheryn Bryce was run-out for 17. The score quickly became 83/3 with the loss of her sister and 87/4 with the wicket of Bethan Ellis. Abigail Freeborn and Lucy Higgins were going on with the game but they were quite behind the required-run-rate and par score as per DLS calculations. When the rain had intervened, Lightning were still 88 short of their target with 19 overs left when rain took the players off for almost an hour, after which the DLS calculation revised the requirement to 32 off 30 balls. A mad dash in those 30 balls saw Lightning go from 126/5 to 146 all out with the combined efforts of Alex Hartley, Sophie Ecclestone and Kate Cross. With that collapse, they fell short by 4 runs as Thunder picked up their first points in the competition. Sarah Bryce impressed with the bat, scoring 52 while England veterans Alex Hartley and Sophie Ecclestone picked up 2 wickets apiece.
Lightning now face Northern Diamonds in Chester-le-Street while Thunder will be facing Central Sparks. Both matches will be played on 31st August.
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Thunder – 206/9 in 50 overs (S Ecclestone – 60, E Threlkeld – 52, S Munro – 3/32, L Higham – 2/50)
Lightning – 146 all out in 35.5 overs (36 overs) (S Bryce – 52, S Ecclestone – 2/29, A Hartley – 2/35)
Thunder won by 4 runs (DLS Method)