Surrey Stars kept their Kia Super League Finals Day qualification ambitions alive with a dramatic four-wicket win against the Southern Vipers at Hove, with Marizanne Kapp hitting Dani Wyatt for a free-hit six in the last over to settle a thrilling contest.
Wyatt clipped the stumps at the bowlers’ end with the first ball of the final over, which began with the Stars needing nine runs as they chased Vipers’ 147 for 9, and as Laura Marsh hit a single into the covers the umpire, Michael Gough, signalled the no ball. The six brought the scores level and, two balls later, Kapp clipped the single into the legside to clinch victory with three balls to spare at 148 for 6.
Kapp was in with Marsh for the finish after Nat Sciver and Sarah Taylor had revived Stars’ hopes with a superb partnership of 73 in 8.4 overs for the third wicket following a sluggish start. After the six-over powerplay Stars had only 31 runs on the board, and they were struggling on 53 for 2 at halfway.
But Sciver thumped a six and five fours in her 33-ball 46 and Taylor four fours in 38 from 30 balls as, somehow, the Stars were equal to an equation which came down to 54 from the last five overs. Stars must now beat Western Storm at the Kia Oval on Saturday to join the Storm and Lancashire Thunder in Finals Day, back at Hove, on August 27.
Defeat for the Vipers was extremely harsh on Suzie Bates, their captain, who produced a superb all-round performance, hitting 82 from 57 balls and then taking 2 for 22 from her four overs in this penultimate group game for both sides.
New Zealand international Bates struck a six and 13 fours in her highest score of this KSL season, and first half-century, in a 20-over total of 147 for 9. The 30-year-old then bowled opener Bryony Smith for 11 in her second over, and later added the scalp of Dane van Niekerk for 10 in a frantic finale which also saw Sophia Dunkley slice to extra cover to go for 2.
For good measure, Bates took a vital catch at mid off in the 17th over, off leg spinner Amelia Kerr, to end Taylor’s sparkling innings. But it was not enough, and four overthrows needlessly given away by the unfortunate Wyatt, again the bowler, from the last ball of the 18th over did not help the Vipers’ cause.
Lauren Bell, a tall 17-year-old seamer making only her third KSL appearance, bowled impressively for the Vipers, starting the Stars innings with a maiden, sending down three of the first six powerplay overs at a personal cost of just seven runs and finishing with 4-1-16-0.
Earlier, Bates was in at No3 in the opening over when Tammy Beaumont advanced to the first ball she faced, from off spinner Marsh, and was smartly stumped by Taylor after the bowler had cleverly fired it past the England batsman’s pads.
Wyatt, having extra cover driven for four the first ball of the match, from Marsh, then lofted Kapp’s medium pace for six but was bowled for 15 when Sciver was introduced for the fifth over.
Bates had already warmed up by straight driving Van Niekerk for four and then taking successive fours off Kapp, through cover and down the ground, and she continued to dominate the scoring as Mignon du Preez settled in to help post 41 for the third wicket.
Du Preez did offer a couple of blows herself, once swinging seamer Eva Gray high over the long on fielder for four before being bowled by Van Niekerk for 14.
Bates late cut Sciver to the ropes and carved the next ball to the mid wicket boundary before lifting Marsh for six and hitting Dunkley’s leg spin over extra cover for four.
She reached 62 with a brilliant overhead tennis-style uppercut for four, directly behind keeper Taylor, when an attempted Sciver slower ball ended up as a head-high full toss, which was also quite correctly no-balled.
Sciver hit back to remove both Sara McGlashan (8) and Arran Brindle, for nought, in the space of four balls in the 14th over, and Kerr managed one boundary before mis-hitting a return catch to Van Niekerk to leave the Vipers on 122 for 6 in the 17th over.
Bates was eventually well held at deep square leg by Mady Villiers in the 19th over, off Sciver, after taking two more fours off the England all-rounder, who finished with 4 for 32 from her four overs.
There was just time for Fi Morris and Paige Scholfield to perish in the quest for late runs, bowled and caught at long on respectively to give Kapp two wickets, while No 11 Bell squeezed a full toss from Kapp for four to leave the Stars needing 148.