Jemimah Rodrigues stars as Western Storm lose unbeaten record

Yorkshire Diamonds 104 for 4 (Rodrigues 60, Davies 3-7) beat Western Storm 99 for 3 (Wilson 45*) by five runs

Yorkshire Diamonds overseas star Jemimah Rodrigues hit a brilliant half-century as Kia Super League finalists Western Storm finally surrendered their unbeaten record, losing by five runs in a rain-affected contest at the Cooper Associates Ground.

Rodrigues struck 60 from 27 balls, accrued 10 fours and two sixes and dominated a match-winning third-wicket stand of 79 in 45 balls with Hollie Armitage as Diamonds posted 104 for 4 in 10 overs after being put into bat.

Victorious in their opening nine games and desperate to retain their 100% record, Storm refused to go down without a fight. Fran Wilson and Sophie Luff took the chase down to the final ball in a spirited unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 76, only for experienced seamer Beth Langston to hold her nerve in a thrilling finale.

Internationals Lauren Winfield and Alyssa Healy afforded Diamonds’ innings crucial early momentum in a first over which yielded 19 runs, offspinner Claire Nicholas uncharacteristically conceding four boundaries.

But England seamer Freya Davies effected a turnaround in fortunes, removing both in the space of five balls in the second over to reduce Diamonds to 21 for 2. England’s Winfield skied a top-edged pull to wicketkeeper Rachel Priest, who then demonstrated safe hands when Australia’s Healy was hurried in the act of driving.

New batsmen Rodrigues and Armitage sought to redress the balance, staging a revitalising partnership for the third wicket. They particularly targeted off spinners Heather Knight, Deepti Sharma and Nicholas, advancing the total to a handy 55 for 2 at halfway.

Indian teen star Rodrigues timed the ball sweetly, smiting two sixes and eight fours in raising a 21-ball 50, bringing more or less constant pressure to bear on the Storm bowlers. Rodrigues was threatening to carry Diamonds to a truly imposing total when she finally fluffed her lines in the face of nagging line and length from Davies, mistiming a drive and holing out to mid-off in the final over.

The only Storm bowler to escape punishment, Davies finished with admirable figures of 3 for 7 off two overs, frustrating Yorkshire’s attempts to accelerate at the death.

Prepared to play second fiddle, Armitage proved the perfect foil to the more forthright Rodrigues, contributing 19 from 21 deliveries before being run out off the final ball.

Storm’s reply was halted in its tracks as key batters Priest, Smriti Mandhana and Knight all departed inside five overs, Diamonds reducing the hosts to 23 for 3. Priest never looked comfortable under the floodlights, hitting Linsey Smith to deep midwicket for 7 to spark the slide.

Mandhana chipped Leigh Kasperek to cover in the next over and Knight followed her back to the pavilion soon afterwards, dismissed in near-identical fashion to afford Diamonds all the encouragement they needed.

Charged with the unenviable task of rebuilding an innings that had stalled in it’s infancy, Wilson and Luff made a decent fist of chasing. Throwing caution to the wind, the fourth-wicket pair combined feverish running between the wickets and clean hitting to sow seeds of doubt in Yorkshire minds.

Needing 14 runs off the final over, Storm hopes were revived when Langston no-balled twice. But the home side were unable to take advantage of the subsequent free hits and came up agonislingly short at the death. Wilson hit an unbeaten 45 from 20 balls, while Somerset-born Luff finished on 31 not out from 18 deliveries.

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