Southern Vipers 184 for 7 (Adams 50, Arlott 2-23) beat Central Sparks 183 for 9 (Campbell 54, Adams 4-30) by three wickets
After Sparks were put in, their innings was a staccato affair. Despite impressive knocks from Ami Campbell, with 54 off 76 balls, and Abbey Freeborn (43 from 96), they never truly escaped the shackles of tight collective bowling led by Adams and Charlie Dean. When Vipers’ reply dipped to 46 for 4 in the 15th over, they were under severe pressure, but Adams and Dean added 105 in 19 overs to take their side to the brink of a second successive victory.
Sparks were left nursing a second defeat in their first three games and could reflect that delivering 21 wides cost them dear in a low-scoring match.
With the pitch freshened up by a torrential downpour, Vipers chose to bowl and struck with the eighth ball when Dean accepted a simple return catch from Chloe Brewer.
Eve Jones and Freeborn rebuilt with a stand of 56 in 18 overs before Georgia Elwiss struck twice in three balls. If the lbw decision that dispatched Jones was highly debatable, there was no doubt about the departure of Davina Perrin whose middle stump was left leaning at a lazy angle.
Freeborn built another solid partnership – 61 in 15 overs – with Campbell but Vipers’ bowlers always made the batters work hard for runs. Adams collected her first wicket when she accepted a return catch from Freeborn.
Katie George worked the ball around sweetly but her dismissal by a superb piece of work in the field proved the pivotal moment of the match. George ladled Alice Monaghan to deep square leg where Maia Bouchier took a brilliant catch on the run and the value of that catch proved huge as the innings lost all momentum from that point.
The last seven overs brought just 22 runs for five wickets as Sparks slumped from a relatively healthy 161 for 4 to 183 for 9. Adams ended Campbell’s resistance thanks to a smart catch from Linsey Smith and bowled the dangerous Issy Wong second ball. Lauren Bell added the wicket of Emily Arlott who nicked to wicketkeeper Rhianna Southby as the Vipers snuffed out the innings with great efficiency.
Sparks’ bowlers needed to make early inroads and they did. Arlott had Ella McCaughan caught at short fine leg from the fourth ball and added the big wicket of Elwiss in a bristling opening spell of 6-0-12-2. Danni Wyatt chipped Wong to midwicket and when George hit middle stump to uproot Maia Boucher, Vipers were 46 for 4 and vulnerable.
Adams and Dean batted with great composure to take their side within 23 of victory. Both perished in successive overs, Adams bowled by Hannah Baker and Dean caught behind off George, but Emily Windsor and Southby calmly saw Vipers home.
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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