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Sophie Luff, Fran Wilson steer Western Storm to comfortable DLS victory

Sophie Luff led from the front Getty Images

Western Storm 260 for 9 (Luff 48, Cleary 3-45) beat Lightning 166 for 9 (Filer 3-35) by 75 runs (DLS method)

Western Storm opened their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaign with a comfortable victory over East Midlands side Lightning in a rain-affected match at the Haslegrave Grove ground in Loughborough.

Chasing a revised target of 250 from 46 overs after Storm had finished on 255 for 9 from 50, Lightning were 166 for 9 from 34.2 overs when a second stoppage for heavy rain forced the match to be abandoned, losing by 75 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern index.

Sophie Luff made 48 and former England international Fran Wilson 43 off 37 balls after Lightning chose to bowl first. Australian seam bowler Piepa Cleary led the Lightning attack with 3 for 45 from her 10 overs.

There were useful contributions too from wicketkeeper Natasha Wraith, with a run-a-ball 35 and 17-year-old Sophia Smale, who hit an unbeaten 23, adding 25 with Claire Nicholas for the last wicket.

Allrounder Lucy Higham top-scored with 34 for Lightning, who never recovered from slipping to 23 for 3 inside seven overs, their troubles compounded when they incurred a five-run penalty for a disciplinary code breach.

The occasion made history by being the first professional match in England to feature a husband-and-wife team of on-field umpires in Naeem Ashraf, an allrounder who played two one-day internationals for Pakistan in 1995 and Jasmine Naeem.

In gloomy conditions with rain in the air, Storm soon lost Georgia Hennessy leg before to Cleary but were 44 for 1 after 10 before left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon bowled Alex Griffiths for 22.

Luff and Wilson dominated for a dozen overs, Wilson mixing power with panache as she cleared the short, straight boundary off Gordon and medium-pacer Teresa Graves but took fours off Higham's offspin with reverse paddle-sweeps.

But Lightning were handed a breakthrough as Wilson hit Graves straight to the fielder at mid-off in the 25th over and when Luff was caught behind down the leg side off 17-year-old leg spinner Sophie Groves two short of a half-century, Storm were 143 for 4 in the 29th.

Katie George and Dani Gibson made starts but soon came unstuck but, as play continued despite persistent showers, Wraith and Lauren Parfitt added 28 before the latter was caught at mid-off.

Wraith and Smale put on another 27 before Beth Harmer's fine throw from mid-off ran Wraith, Lauren Filer was caught and bowled after sending a ball from Cleary a long way skywards but Smale and Nicholas made good use of the final four overs.

It looked like a score Lightning might fancy themselves to chase down but their reply started badly, their top three batters falling in the opening seven overs to Storm's new-ball duo of Filer and Gibson. Filer arrowed one in to bowl Sarah Bryce before sister Kathryn found Wilson at point and Marie Kelly picked out Smale at cover to leave their side in trouble.

Either side of a 50-minute stoppage for rain, Higham and loan signing Emily Windsor, the Southern Vipers batter, added 62, the last 40 coming in five overs as they attacked George and Smale. But Higham was unlucky to fall on 34, when a full blooded drive was turned into a stunning return catch in her follow-through by Nicholas.

When slow left-armer Parfitt dismissed Windsor and Cleary with the last two balls of the 22nd over, caught at backward point and mid-off respectively, Lightning looked out of contention at 102 for 6, despite the best efforts of Harmer, who hit 27 from 20 balls before she was run out.

Gordon and Groves were both caught behind as Filer returned to the attack, Graves finishing unbeaten on 26.

Lightning 2nd innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st17M KellySJ Bryce
2nd5M KellyKE Bryce
3rd1M KellyEL Windsor
4th62LF HighamEL Windsor
5th17EL WindsorBC Harmer
6th0P ClearyBC Harmer
7th31BC HarmerT Graves
8th2KL GordonT Graves
9th4T GravesJ Groves
10th27T GravesG Ballinger