A superb individual performance from Stefanie Taylor gave Western Storm lift-off in the Kia Super League as they defeated Loughborough Lightning by five wickets in front of the Sky TV cameras at Taunton.
Taking centre stage ahead of Somerset’s NatWest T20 Blast fixture against Kent, the West Indies all-rounder returned startling figures of 4-5 in four overs and effected a game-changing run out as Lightning were restricted to 108-9 after being put in.
Trounced by defending champions Southern Vipers in their opening match, Storm chased down their target with five balls to spare to register their first victory in this season’s domestic women’s T20 competition, Taylor top-scoring with 34.
Amy Jones afforded Lightning’s innings early impetus, raising 21 from 12 balls, before chipping Freya Davies to Claire Nicholas at mid-on with the scoreboard on 30. But the visitors still managed to accrue 38 runs from the power-play with overseas star Ellyse Perry to the fore.
The Australian clubbed the first six of the match off Jodie Dibble and was moving up through the gears when she attempted a risky single to mid-wicket and was brilliantly run out by Taylor’s direct hit. Having scored 25 from 28 balls, Lightning’s inspirational opener walked while the third umpire was still studying the TV replay, and Lightning’s chances of posting a challenging total went with her.
The leading run-scorer and wicket-taker in the inaugural Super League competition 12 months ago, the irrepressible Taylor picked up where she left off, the 26-year-old Jamaican claiming three wickets in five balls in her first over from the River End to reduce the Lightning innings to rubble and fundamentally alter the complexion of the match.
Propelling off breaks from the River End, the West Indies international pinned Lightning captain Georgia Elwiss lbw with her second ball to strike a crucial blow for the home side. She then lured Sonia Odedra into front-foot indiscretion, enabling Rachel Priest to execute a smart stumping, before trapping Thea Brookes in front of the stumps without scoring to reduce Lightning to 59-5 at the halfway stage.
Any prospects of last season’s beaten semi-finalists recovering were stifled by Taylor, who had Paige Schofield caught behind for 15 in the act of cutting, leaving Marie Kelly and Lucy Higham to attempt a rescue act from the wreckage of 73-6 in the 14th over.
Determined to prove a point after experiencing a torrid debut at the Ageas Bowl two days earlier, New Zealand pace bowler Holly Huddlestone knocked back Kelly’s off stump to register her first wicket in Super League, while Higham was run out in the penultimate over and England’s Beth Langston holed out to long-on as Storm exerted a vice-like grip.
Priest departed for a duck in the first over, skipper Heather Knight was run out for 24 by Higham’s excellent pick up and throw from point and Georgia Hennessey, having scratched 23 from 29 balls, drove Elwiss to Perry at mid-wicket as Storm struggled to 62-3 in the 13th over.
When England international Fran Wilson fell, that was the cue for the ubiquitous Taylor to break the shackles, the overseas hired hand helping herself to five boundaries and playing the lead role in a fifth-wicket stand of 30 with Taunton-born Sophie Luff (18 not out) to calm any nerves.
Storm captain Heather Knight said:
“We made it slightly tense in the chase, but we got over the line in the end and that is all that matters. This was the perfect response to losing our first game.
“Our plan was to dominate in the field and I thought we did that today. How good was Stefanie Taylor? She loves playing at this ground and she was brilliant.
“She had a really tough World Cup with the West Indies, but she is now enjoying playing without so much pressure.”
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