International captains Stafanie Taylor and Heather Knight moved Western Storm a significant step closer to Finals’ Day in the Kia Super League at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton.
Chasing 138 to win, the pair added 65 for the second wicket as the Storm won by 8 wickets with 13 balls to spare. West Indian Taylor was once again the player of the match with an unbeaten 78 off 51 balls.
That’s three wins in four matches for two sides who remain two of the warm favourites to make it through to the inaugural Finals’ day on August 21.
Batting first, the Vipers, who came into the game on the back of three successive victories, made a decent start courtesy of former England captain Charlotte Edwards and New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates.
The pair reached 50 in the ninth over and carried on regardless as the Storm struggled to find an answer. It took Bates almost 10 overs to hit her first four, but when she did, off the bowling of Jodie Dibble, she struck two in as many balls. Edwards, who had ridden her luck, eventually picked out Anya Shrubshole, off the bowling of Knight for 30 at 73 for 1, and though Bates continued to attack, the wicket certainly put a check on the Vipers’ progress.
However, once Kiwi Sara McGlashan settled, the visitors added 37 for the second wicket. Bates struck a six over mid wicket, having brought up her half century with a sixth boundary four, and the pair took the total to 110 in the 16th over when Bates was trapped lbw by Knight for 57 off 50 balls.
McGlashan (19) fell to Georgia Hennessey’s medium pace at 126 for 3 thanks to a decent catch by Dibble at long leg and one or two lusty blows later, the Vipers wound up their innings on 137 for 3.
The Storm lost opener Rachel Priest, caught by Bates off the bowling of Tash Farrant for 0 at 10 for one but in Taylor and Knight they have two international captains capable of winning any game.
Taylor had done exactly that against Surrey Stars in Bristol earlier in the week and the West Indian captain looked in decent touch again.
Quick to punish anything short or too full, the pair reached their 50 partnership in the 10th over with Taylor hitting Fi Morris for successive straight boundaries before being dropped at cover by Arran Brindle on 41.
Knight chipped Morris to Edwards at mid-wicket at 75 for 2 off the final ball of the 12th over but with Taylor passing 50 off 36 balls and still going strong, the game was always within the Storm’s grasp.
Taylor and Fran Wilson pulled out every shot in the book in an attempt to stay up with the rate and though there were moments when the Vipers must have thought victory was theirs, the hosts won the day off the penultimate ball of the 18th over with Taylor unbeaten on 78 and Wilson 24 not out.
After the match Taylor said: “It was very important to win and it’s great that everyone had their part to play. The bowlers did really well because they were up against some great players. I haven’t been doing that well since I got here, so it was nice to hit the ball like that and help us get the win. It puts us in a very good position but we definitely need to win on Sunday. That’s another crucial game for us.”