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Smriti stars again in big win

Smriti Mandhana continued her glittering start to the Kia Super League as the Indian star smashed 43 not out to hand Western Storm a bonus point victory over Southern Vipers.

In a re-match of both the 2016 and 2017 finals, Vipers were blown away by the Storm having been bowled out for their lowest ever total of 91.

Mandhana, on the back of an unbeaten 52, 37 and 48 to start the campaign crashed 43 off 27 to set up a nine wicket victory.

Heather Knight won the toss and elected to bowl on a green tinged wicket under unblemished blue skies and it took until the third over for the Storm to make their first breakthrough, as Danielle Wyatt was caught behind off Anya Shrubsole attempting to guide a shot down to third man.

Claire Nicholas then grabbed her first wicket of the match when she bowled Mignon du Preez – Vipers reaching 28 for two at the end of the powerplay.

Sara McGlashan was the only Viper to appear in any comfort at the crease, with the South African crashing a maximum straight down the ground but while she stroked the ball around, wickets kept on falling at the other end.

Captain Suzie Bates was caught and bowled by Danielle Gibson – with the ball nestling in the bowler’s midriff and Arran Brindle was given a life when she was dropped at fine leg, with Nicholas brilliantly diving forward but just failing to hang on. However, the missed chance didn’t prove costly as former England star Brindle was run out by a direct hit by Naomi Dattani at mid-off.

Maia Bouchier was handed her debut, with Tammy Beaumont unable to play due to the suspected concussion she sustained during Sunday’s defeat to Lancashire Thunder. The Middlesex batter gained a life when Rachel Priest missed a stumping, but was run out soon after by Knight.

McGlashan was then stumped for 31 to leave the Vipers on 63 for six as the innings-long collapse continued.

The final four wickets was an example in self-destructive batting after growing frustrated at struggling to nurdle runs. Natasha Farrant, Amelia Kerr and Katie George all departed playing either reverse sweeps or scoops. Amber Rudd was the last to depart, when she became the third run out victim, with Vipers bowled out for 91 with two overs to spare.

Nicholas ended the pick of the Storm bowlers with figures of two for 17, although Shrubsole, Freya Davies, Stafanie Taylor and Knight all boasted economy rates of under a run-a-ball.

Priest avoided all of the gremlins the Vipers batters had found in the pitch by smashing 30 off 14 balls.

The opener took Farrant apart in the opening over, with two fours and a massive six down the ground, before three boundaries on the spin off George in the next overs gave the visitors a flier.

Priest departed when she swept Brindle to McGlashan, but it couldn’t stop the onslaught from Mandhana, wilfully accompanied by Knight.

The Indian popped Bates over the rope to go alongside five fours, with Knight ending up unbeaten on 18 – with Storm winning with 63 balls to spare.

After the comprehensive victory Heather Knight said: “We were really clinical today, I am really pleased about how the girls are going about their business. At the moment there feels like a healthy confidence around the side. We back ourselves and each other.

“We’ve bowled really well on some flat wickets but we were happy to get on a slightly slower one here. The bowlers were brilliant, led by Anya and Freya.

“We want Rachel and Smriti to be powerful in the powerplays and they did exactly that. It was slower than we have been playing on in the West Country but we adapted well, got off to a flier and then carried the momentum through to the rest of the innings.

“Smriti has been a great signing for us. She is a really relaxed character as well and the way she has played is outstanding. When you get those two on form you are going to get a hell of a good powerplay – it’s been great for me coming in at three after their start!

“It is important we keep on putting in performance after performance and hopefully we can make another finals day.”

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