Central Sparks 218 for 4 (Jones 77) beat Northern Diamonds 217 (Kalis 87, Russell 4-28, Baker 3-26) by six wickets
Captain Eve Jones hit a composed 77 to lead a successful Central Sparks chase of 218 as they inflicted a first defeat in five Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy games upon North Group leaders Northern Diamonds at Emerald Headingley.
The six-wicket victory, secured with 3.2 overs to spare, keeps the race for a final spot at Edgbaston (September 27) alive going into next weekend’s last round of matches. A third win in five games for the Sparks cuts the gap from nine points to five at the top.
That means to have any chance of qualifying for the final, the Sparks need to beat Lightning at Grace Road on Saturday with a bonus point (achieved by scoring at a run-rate 25% higher than your opponent) and hope the Diamonds lose against North West Thunder at Headingley. Then it would come down to net run-rate.
Opener Jones helped her side recover from 0 for 1 in the first over of the reply under a sunny Leeds sky, sharing 123 inside 26 overs with second-wicket partner Marie Kelly, who made 49.
Left-handed Jones played a calm hand and was strong on both sides of the wicket, a similar knock to the 87 from home No. 3 Sterre Kalis.
Netherlands international Kalis had bounced back from three successive ducks to underpin the Diamonds 217 all out.
For the Sparks, new ball seamer Liz Russell was excellent with 4 for 28 from nine overs, while legspinner Hannah Baker claimed 3 for 26 from 10.
Having elected to bat, the momentum swung back and forth during the Diamonds innings. At 113 for 1 in the 27th over, with 21-year-old Kalis set at the crease on a good pitch offering only the odd sign of uneven bounce, they were looking at a total in the region of 250.
However, they later slipped to 185 for 8 in the 45th, with three wickets apiece at that stage for Russell and Baker. Kalis played the anchor role expertly, calmly picking the gaps and putting away the bad ball in her 115-ball knock.
She was supported by opener Rachel Hopkins, who made 35 – the pair sharing 85 inside 20 overs for the second wicket to advance from 28 for 1 in the seventh. Later, Beth Langston added an important 26 down the order to boost the target.
The Sparks fightback was started by three quick wickets for Baker, who removed Hopkins, Ami Campbell and Alex MacDonald as the score slipped from 113 for 1 in the 27th over to 120 for 4 in the 29th.
— Central Sparks (@CentralSparks) September 13, 2020
The Diamonds lost two wickets in an over on three separate occasions, the first of those being when Baker had Campbell caught at mid-on and MacDonald lbw sweeping two balls later.
Another legspinner, Anisha Patel later did the same, getting Jenny Gunn and Bess Heath, before Russell returned at the death to get Kalis caught at mid-off and Phoebe Graham to leave the Diamonds 185 for 8 in the 45th.
After an early Langston wicket with the new ball, the Sparks controlled the chase through Jones, who hit nine fours in 114 balls, and Kelly.
There was a brief wobble when Jones chipped a return catch to legspinner Katie Levick and Langston trapped Millie Home lbw two balls later, leaving the score at 172 for 4 in the 40th over.
But Poppy Davies (31 not out) and Chloe Hill calmed nerves with an unbroken 46. Hill finished with an unbeaten 23 and hit the winning runs.
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