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Northern Diamonds fall short to Southern Vipers in enthralling Final

— 27 September 2020

Northern Diamonds 193 v Southern Vipers 231, Edgbaston. Vipers won by 38 runs.

Charlotte Taylor’s game changing six-wicket return ensured the Southern Vipers defended 232 to beat Northern Diamonds by 38 runs and claim the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title at Edgbaston.

An enthralling game which swung back and forth throughout saw the Diamonds well placed at 74 for one in the 15th over of their chase, only to slip to 96 for six in the 23rd as brilliant off-spinner Taylor struck the decisive blows.

She had opener Hollie Armitage (26) caught at backward point, Alex MacDonald out hit wicket, Jenny Gunn trapped lbw and Bess Heath caught at deep mid-wicket.

The Diamonds were later bowled out for 193 inside 43 overs, with 26-year-old Taylor also trapping Beth Langston lbw and getting Netherlands international Sterre Kalis caught at mid-on for 55 on the way to a fabulous six for 34 from 10 overs – the best haul from any bowler in the competition.

Vipers’ captain Georgia Adams continued her stunning form with 80 off 102 balls, including eleven fours, at the top of the order as she underpinned 231 all out and moved to 500 competition runs in the process.

She shared a century opening partnership with Ella McCaughan (35) having been inserted, only for the Diamonds to drag things back impressively as leg-spinners Katie Levick and Hollie Armitage shared five wickets.

After Adams and McCaughan shared 100 inside 24 overs, their side’s fourth century opening stand in seven games, the South Coast side were in a dominant position at 150 for one in the 32nd over.

Adams was particularly strong square of the wicket, reaching 50 for the fourth time in this competition off 68 balls.

Maia Bouchier, however, looked more fluent at the crease and was punishing through the covers and over the top on the way to 28.

With herself and Adams together – they shared 50 inside eight overs after McCaughan had feathered left-arm spinner Linsey Smith behind – a total nearing 300 was not unrealistic on a pacy and true surface with a fast outfield.

But things changed in a flash. Captain Lauren Winfield-Hill, back from England’s T20 bubble, brought Armitage into the attack, and she struck first ball with a long hop which Bouchier pulled head high to mid-on, leaving the score at 150 for two in the 32nd.

Almost 12 overs later, the Vipers were 191 for eight, with Armitage striking again added to three wickets for Levick, who trapped Charlie Dean and Carla Rudd lbw and removed Adams caught at deep mid-wicket.

Levick’s first two overs had cost her 19, only to finish with three for 49 from eight.

Miserly former England seamers Langston and Jenny Gunn both contributed significantly in dragging things back and finished with a wicket apiece.

However, there was to be a late twist as the Vipers were boosted by an industrious 37 off 48 balls from Emily Windsor to ensure they went beyond 230.

The Diamonds made a solid start to their reply before Winfield-Hill (20) chipped seamer Bouchier’s second ball to cover – 36 for one in the eighth over.

Armitage then launched the game’s only six – over mid-wicket off the seam of Paige Scholfield in the 12th over.

But the Diamonds were about to lose their way, as the Vipers had done earlier. Unfortunately for them, this was to be far more damaging.

Armitage, Campbell and MacDonald, the latter hit wicket playing back at a quicker ball from Taylor, all fell to the first ball of the 15th, 16th and 17th overs before Gunn and Heath followed as the Diamonds slipped to six down still needing 136 more to win.

Another off-spinner Charlie Dean then trapped Smith lbw as the score fell to 110 for seven after 26.

Kalis, who batted at three and watched the collapse from the other end, tried in vain to rescue things with a polished 75-ball knock.

She shared 49 for the eighth wicket with Langston, who fell for 21 in the 35th over to provide Taylor with her fifth wicket.

Kalis then became her sixth shortly after reaching 50 in the 37th, and Taylor finishes with a competition high 15 wickets in five appearances.

Skipper Adams wrapped up the win by getting Phoebe Graham caught at mid-wicket in the 43rd over, sparking jubilant celebrations.

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