Skipper Sophie Luff’s elegant half century led Western Storm to a crushing 86-run victory over hosts Sunrisers at Chelmsford.
Luff stroked nine 4s in an innings of 85 from 115 balls, sharing stands of 80 – in just 61 deliveries – with Alex Griffiths and 55 with Claire Nicholas as Storm rattled up 265-6, despite 10 excellent overs of off-spin from Alice Macleod (1-34).
Lauren Filer then took wickets with her first two balls of the tournament, before Fi Morris (5-26) claimed a five-wicket haul as Sunrisers mustered 179 in reply, Jo Gardner top-scoring with 54.
Morris (24) and Lauren Parfitt got Storm off to a solid start with an opening stand of 43 after being asked to bat first. But the former fell to Macleod and helped by a mix-up which saw Georgia Hennessy run out, Sunrisers reduced the visitors to 109-4 just beyond halfway.
Instead of grabbing the match by the scruff, Sunrisers’ bowlers lost their discipline as Griffiths and Luff unleashed a flurry of boundaries, producing 58 runs in the next five overs.
Griffiths hit the innings’ only six before being given a life on 29 when skipper Amara Carr and bowler Emily Thorpe left a simple top edge to one another and the chance was lost.
The Welsh-born all-rounder was eventually snared LBW by Sonali Patel (1-31) for 43, made from just 34 balls, before Luff was stumped off Katie Wolfe (1-23). Nevertheless, 265 looked an imposing score and Filer soon made it look a whole lot bigger.
Storm’s medium pacer struck a huge blow when having Carr caught at slip for a golden duck and her next ball splayed MacLeod’s stumps to leave the hosts 2-2. The hat-trick ball proved an anti-climactic wide, one of three in an over of 11 deliveries – too much adrenaline perhaps?
Hard-hitting Cordelia Griffith lost her middle stump playing all round one from Griffiths, before Morris accounted for both Naomi Dattani (27) and Gaya Gole to leave Sunrisers in tatters at 70-5.
Gardner smote two big sixes in a gritty half-century, sharing a sixth-wicket of 51 with Grace Scrivens, but she became Morris’ fifth victim to leave Sunrisers still winless in the tournament.
Fi Morris, Western Storm all-rounder said:“This was the first time I’ve got five wickets in a good few years and this was a good day to do it.
“I felt in a good rhythm today and I bowled at a better pace than I have in the last couple of games. Hopefully I can carry it on to the next game.
“We were feeling pretty confident with 265 on the board at halfway.
“The stand of 80 between Alex (Griffiths) and Sophie (Luff) was exactly what we needed at the time. Alex has been hitting it really well in the nets without quite coming off, so for her to bat like she did without fear made it the perfect partnership really – Sophie getting the ones and twos at one end and Alex teeing off at the other.
“We just asked Lauren (Filer) to bowl quick and attacking and that’s what she did, and Amara having got 90-odd the other day was a big wicket.
“The way we bowled up top set the tone and put them under pressure which made my life a bit easier.”