Kia Super League

Surrey Stars 160-5 beat Western Storm 158-5 by 5 wkts

SOPHIA Dunkley’s boundary in the final over settled a breath-taking contest and sent Surrey Stars to Kia Super League finals day.

A game which swung one way then the other on numerous occasions saw Stars who had to win to advance finally hold sway thanks to Dunkley’s cut over cover under the lights at the Kia Oval.

England captain Heather Knight’s 62 looked to have given Western Storm he initiative after they were put in by Nat Sciver.

But Lizelle Lee’s brutal 48 and 39 from Bryony Smith kept Stars in the hunt ahead of the tense finish.

Smiriti Mandhana has lit up the KSL this year, but in her last appearance of 2018 the Indian opener left the stage early, run out by Mady Villiers trying to steal a single which wasn’t there.

Nevertheless, Storm gained impetus through the powerplay thanks to wicketkeeper Rachel Priest. The Kiwi hit a towering six in taking 14 off an over from Marizanne Kapp in reaching 30 off 20 balls.

It needed a superb piece of bowling by Dane Van Niekerk to remove her, the South African captain deceiving Priest in the flight and turning one which took the top of off.

Van Niekerk (2-20) then produced an equally well flighted ball to beat the advancing Stefanie Taylor, Sarah Taylor whipping off the bails.

Knight took up the quest for runs, slowly at first before producing a spate of boundaries. She was not without good fortune, dropped twice on 29 and 45, Dunkley (0-21) the luckless bowler on both occasions. And Knight was also reprieved on 35, Villiers taking a stunning catch in the deep off the bowling of Sciver only for the third umpire to rule the delivery a no-ball for height. She was eventually run out in the final over.

Fran Wilson lent excellent support with 28 in a fourth-wicket stand of 59, while a towering Naomi Dattani six in the last over helped Storm post their imposing total.

Lizelle Lee and Bryony Smith survived several near runouts in a frantic start to the chase. Despite the hard running the hosts were behind the rate, Storm’s smart fielding meaning just 37 came from the powerplay.

Two towering sixes though helped Lee take 22 off the following over from Taylor and Smith caught the mood smiting Knight for another maximum in the next.

The momentum seemed to have swung Stars’ way, but Anya Shrubsole returned to make the breakthrough, having Lee caught by Taylor in the covers for 48 from 28 balls.

Taylor then deceived namesake Sarah Taylor, bowling her for just one and when Smith (39) fell to a stunning catch in the deep by Danielle Gibson three wickets had fallen for five runs in eight balls – the game again in the balance.

Skipper Sciver and Van Niekerk continued to chip away at the target, though as the pressure mounted the latter was spilt in the deep by Knight.

Her response was to break the run of singles with a boundary off Taylor and when Sciver followed suit the target was 25 from 18.

Chasing top spot, Storm would not go quietly and Davies had Van Niekerk (25) stumped with 19 still needed.

Sciver (22) found the boundary again only to be caught and bowled by Claire Nicholas as tension reached new heights.

Six were needed off the final over and three from the last three balls, but Dunkley struck the winning blow, meaning these two sides meet again in the final’s day playoff in eight days’ time.

Copy courtesy of ECB Reporters Network