Kia Super League

Yorkshire Diamonds 104-4 beat Western Storm 99-3 by 5 runs

WESTERN Storm just failed in their quest to make it a perfect 10 in the Kia Super League group stage as Yorkshire Diamonds ran out five-run winners in a Taunton thriller.

In a match reduced to 10 overs a side, a superb 60 from 18-year-old Jemimah Rodrigues led the visitors to 104-4 and it proved just beyond the home side despite a terrific 76-run partnership between Fran Wilson (45*) and Sophie Luff (31*).

Storm had been reeling at 23-3 in the fifth over but Luff and Wilson played fluently to take the equation down to six needed from the final ball, which Luff played and missed as the White Rose narrowly closed out victory.

The afternoon rain in Taunton delayed the start by nearly two hours but conditions eased in time to allow the game to get underway under the lights at 8.20pm.

Diamonds made up for lost time, taking 19 from the first over, but the second saw them lose both openers as Freya Davies struck twice.

Both were caught behind but in contrasting fashion, with Lauren Winfield (12) lofting straight up in the air having come down the wicket and Alyssa Healy (7) edging through to Rachel Priest attempting a cut.

Enter Rodrigues, who timed the ball superbly from the outset and hit the evening’s first six straight back over the head of Storm skipper Heather Knight.

The Indian international raced to a 21-ball half century, including eight fours and two sixes, as Yorkshire raced along at more than 10 an over.

It took the reintroduction of Davies, held back until the final over, to end Rodrigues’ super knock on 60 as she induced a chip to mid-off which was held by Smriti Mandhana.

Davies ended with superb figures of 3-7 from her two overs to restrict Yorkshire – who had looked set for a total of around 120 – to 104-4, with Hollie Armitage (18) run out from the final ball of the innings coming back for a second run.

Storm were less fluent to begin with in reply and Priest, who had limped to seven from 12 balls, picked out Rodrigues at deep mid-wicket to provide Yorkshire with their first breakthrough.

There was a further setback just three balls later as Smriti Mandhana, also on seven, chipped straight to cover and the hosts were on the back foot at 19-2.

Knight (4) was caught in the following over and, at the halfway point, the home side were 33-3 – Yorkshire had been 55-2 at the same stage.

Home favourite Luff stepped on the gas alongside Wilson, who hit successive sixes over mid-wicket in a seventh over which yielded 23 to give Storm a glimmer of hope with 42 needed from three overs.

That became 14 from the final over and two Beth Langston no-balls aided Storm’s cause, but the seamer recovered and kept her nerve from the final delivery to secure victory.

Wilson finished on 45 from 20 balls, with Luff on 31 from 18, but Storm ended up paying for their lacklustre start and head to Sunday’s finals day at Hove off the back of their first defeat of the season.

It also ended the team’s unbeaten record in Taunton, built up over four seasons of the Kia Super League, during what was the last Western Storm match to be played at the Cooper Associates County Ground.