WESTERN Storm have suffered a major blow to their hopes of retaining their Kia Super League crown, with the news that Smriti Mandhana will miss finals day in Hove.

Storm had already qualified for the finals, to be held on Monday, August 27, ahead of yesterday's heavy defeat against Loughborough.

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Indian international Mandhana has scored 416 runs at 69.33 for Storm this season, and holds the record for the most 6s in Super League history.

But a scheduled Indian training camp clashes with finals day, meaning that Saturday's match against Surrey Stars at the Oval (7pm start) will be the 22-year-old's final game for Storm this season.

She said: “It’s been fantastic to play for Western Storm and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.

“It’s a great tournament and you learn so much from playing with and against the best players in the world.

“I hope Western Storm can defend their title at Hove.

“They’ve been a very welcoming team and it’s been a great experience.”

Storm head coach Trevor Griffin added: “It’s unfortunate that Smriti won’t be able to play a part at Hove, but we always knew that would be the case and she’s done tremendously well across the tournament.

“She’s been a fantastic influence – on and off the field – and she’s obviously played a large part in our success.

“We’d like to thank her for her efforts this year and hopefully we’ll see her again next season.”

“We have a strong squad and Smriti’s absence gives an opportunity for someone else to step up.”