Vipers come out on top in Bristol

Georgia Adams produced a superb all-round performance with bat and ball to guide Southern Vipers to a 19-run victory over Western Storm in an enthralling Charlotte Edwards Cup contest at Bristol’s Seat Unique Stadium.

Heather Knight had scored 69 from 56 balls and was threatening to win the game for Storm when Adams struck a crucial blow by claiming her wicket in the penultimate over. The Vipers captain finished with figures of 2-23, while fellow spinner Charlie Dean took 3-24 as the home side were bowled out for 119 in 20 overs.

Adams had earlier top-scored with a 40-ball 55, mustered 6 fours and a six and helped stage a progressive stand of 55 in 6.1 overs with Charli Knott as the visitors posted 137-9 after losing the toss.

Lauren Filer produced her best performance of the season, taking 3-8 in four overs, while overseas leg spinner Amanda Jade Wellington returned figures of 3-17 and Sophia Smale claimed 2-28 to keep Storm in with a chance at the halfway stage.

But Vipers held their nerve in a close finish, spinners Adams, Dean, Knott and Linsey Smith making the difference to keep the defending champions on course for a place in the knockout stages.

Vipers posted 41 in the powerplay for the loss of Maia Bouchier and Georgia Elwiss. Restored to Storm’s attack, pace spearhead Filer made an immediate impact, having England team-mate Bouchier held at mid-on without scoring, while Elwiss succumbed to Smale’s slow left arm, chipping to short extra and departing for nine.

Fortunately for the visitors, Knott and Adams were able to harvest sufficient boundaries from the other bowlers to remain in credit, the former carving Ellie Anderson over cover point and then straight-hitting her for an imposing six on a ground where she made a magnificent hundred in a 50-over contest only last month.

Storm deployed spin at both ends in a bid to stem the flow, only for Adams and Knott to each plunder a six at the expense of Chloe Skelton as the eighth over yielded 20 runs. The 50 partnership occupied just 32 balls and the home side no doubt breathed a collective sigh of relief when Knott, having raised 37 from 29 balls with 4 fours and 2 sixes, advanced down the pitch to fellow Australian Wellington and was comprehensively stumped in the tenth with the score on 78.

That quickly became 81-4 in the next over when Freya Kemp, playing back to a fullish delivery from Filer, dislodged a bale and was given out. Wellington then had Charlie Dean caught at the wicket in the act of cutting, at which point Vipers were 84-5, having lost three wickets in the space of 12 balls. Well and truly back in the game, Storm piled on more pressure, Filer clean bowling Nancy Harman to further reduce Vipers to 96-6 in the fifteenth.

Alice Monaghan holed out to long-on off the bowling of Wellington for 11, but the redoubtable Adams remained at large, pulling Smale to move to a 37-ball 50 via her fifth four. By the time she departed in the penultimate over, caught on the long-on boundary off Smale, Vipers were assured a competitive total.

Storm made a shaky start to their chase, Nat Wraith and Fran Wilson falling to successive deliveries from slow left armer Smith in the third over, but Knight remained unfazed as she plundered six boundaries in a powerplay that yielded a healthy return of 43 runs.

Cast in a supporting role in a third-wicket stand of 54, Sophie Luff was pinned lbw by Dean with the the score on 54 in the ninth, but Knight continued to trade ostensibly in boundaries as Storm reached the halfway point on 71-3, requiring a further 68 from 60 deliveries.

Knight went to 50 from 43 balls, but Knott had compatriot Wellington caught at short fine leg and Dean bowled Niamh Holland and Issy Wong with successive deliveries to reduce Storm to 93-6 in the fifteenth as Vipers deployed spin to build pressure during the middle overs.

Requiring 45 off the last five overs, Storm were now almost totally dependent upon experienced campaigner Knight. But the England captain was rapidly running out of partners, Smale holing out to long on off the bowling of Adams, who then put down a tough return catch to afford Knight a life on 62.

Storm still needed 24 off two overs when Knight attempted to straight-drive Adams for six and was brilliantly held by Monaghan on the boundary. Adams then removed Filer with the next delivery to put the outcome beyond doubt.

After the defeat, Lauren Filer said: “Georgia Adams was probably the difference between the two sides. She batted really well to get them up to a decent total and was then responsible for getting out Heather Knight. The way she was going, I thought Heather was going to win the game for us. She is such an outstanding player that, while she was there, we felt we were in with a chance.

“Unfortunately, it was not to be and, in hindsight, perhaps we needed to build one or two more partnerships. Apart from allowing them to score a few too many runs down the ground during the powerplay, I thought we did pretty well with the ball. I’ve adapted the way I grip the ball to give me more control and I was happy with the way I bowled today. I want to be taking wickets for the team. I had some great support from the spinners and, at the halfway stage of the game, we felt we were in with a good chance.

“In the end, we’ve fallen just short, but there are plenty of positive signs and I’m sure we’ll learn from this and come back better in the future.”