A stunning final over from Anya Shrubsole helped Western Storm surge into the Kia Super League Finals Day at Chelmsford next Sunday with a six wicket victory over Yorkshire Diamonds at Headingley.
Storm were left chasing a target of 119 after an astonishing end to the Yorkshire innings which saw Anya Shrubsole bowl the 20th over and complete it with a four-wicket maiden to give her final figures of five for 23 in her four overs which also included another wicket maiden.
West Indian, Stefanie Taylor, and New Zealand’s Rachel Priest, made light work of the reply with a dashing century opening partnership.
Both departed with the score on 101 to consecutive balls from Shabnim Ismail, Priest hitting 50 from 35 deliveries with six fours and two sixes and Taylor 45 from 43 balls with five fours and a six.
A couple more wickets went down quickly but there were still 3.3 overs remaining when Sophie Luff swept the winning boundary.
Taylor and Priest rattled up 25 from the first four overs and Priest went on to straight drive Katie Levick for the first six of the match. Runs flowed as Taylor off-drove Jenny Gunn for four and Priest square drove Stef Butler to the boundary before blazing the trail with two fours and a six off consecutive balls from the same bowler.
Taylor was first out, caught at point, and Ismail’s next ball saw her hold on to a return chance from Priest. Two more wickets went down as Storm aimed to seal their victory as quickly as possible and few in the 585 crowd would dispute that they were worthy winners.
Yorkshire Diamonds’ innings was given early momentum by the flashing blade of captain Lauren Winfield and there was another late surge from Australia’s Beth Mooney before Shrubsole embarked upon her sensational four-wicket maiden to wrap things up.
Batting first on winning the toss, Winfield began her assault in the second over by striking three consecutive boundaries off Freya Davies with powerful leg-side shots. Shrubsole joined the attack for the third over, bowling Hollie Armitage in a wicket maiden, but Winfield continued to go for her shots in a 40 partnership with Mooney and she scored her side’s first 23 runs off the bat before Mooney opened her account with a three.
Mooney pulled Georgia Hennessy through mid-wicket for four and cut Jodie Dibble to the rope but after Winfield had included six boundaries in her 27-ball 32 she got into a tangle sweeping at Davies and was caught behind. There was then a useful stand of 29 between Alex Blackwell and Mooney which left Diamonds well-placed at 63 for two in ten overs but just when Blackwell was getting nicely into her stride there was unnecessary hesitation over a second run and she was left short of her crease.
Yorkshire wickets began to fall and the home side were struggling on 97 for five with three overs remaining. However, Mooney helped herself to three consecutive boundaries off Shrubsole, the third taking her to her half-century from 41 balls with six fours and she added another boundary in the next over before dragging Taylor into her stumps for an invaluable 59.
Diamonds were 118 for six when Shrubsole began the last over. Danielle Hazel drove the first ball to Cait O’Keefe near the boundary edge; the second bowled Jenny Gunn; the fifth had Ismail smartly stumped and the sixth bowled Levick.
Winning captain, Heather Knight, said: “It’s brilliant reaching Finals Day. We knew we had already made it before the match began but there was still a possibility of finishing top if we could win with a bonus point. We couldn’t quite manage that but we did the best we could.”
“Our batsmen are firing on all cylinders and our bowling has improved as the competition has gone on. Our younger players have done very well, as have our overseas players and we are all very excited to be in the first Kia Super League Finals Day.”
Commenting on Shrubsole’s final over, Heather said: “It was certainly an interesting end to the Yorkshire innings to finish with a quad maiden. Anya is one of the best death bowlers in the world and it was an impressive way to clean up.”
Western Storm now take on Loughborough Lightning in the semi final with the winner meeting Southern Vipers in the final.
Kia Super League Finals Day, Sunday August 21, Chelmsford.
Semi Final (11am): Western Storm (2nd) v Loughborough Lightning (3rd)
Final (3pm): Southern Vipers (1st) v Semi Final winners