Lancashire Thunder end Super League season winless as hopes are smashed by Surrey Stars openers at Blackpool
Lizelle Lee and Nat Sciver smashed stunning half-centuries to fire Surrey Stars to victory over Lancashire Thunder by 35 runs in a rain-hit finale to their Kia Super League season in Blackpool.
Openers Lee and Sciver, the Stars captain, amassed a sensational 127 partnership in just two balls short of the allotted nine overs after rain prevented a start at Stanley Park until 5pm.
The Stars finished with 131 for one before the winless Thunder replied with 97-7, of which Australian Tahlia McGrath hit 41 off 19 balls in an opening stand of 50, while Hannah Jones took three wickets.
Last year's champions, Surrey finished above only Lancashire this time around and the T20 format is to be replaced by The Hundred next year.
South African Lee crashed 75 off only 28 balls with 13 fours and three sixes, while England Sciver reached 50 off 26 with a boundary of the last ball of the innings from international team-mate Kate Cross.
These teams at least ended the Super League era in style with a combined total of 33 fours and nine sixes.
Lee, whose 50 came in only 17 balls in the fifth over, hit 70 of her 75 runs in boundaries, with her strike-rate of 267.85 the highest of the competition.
Both Lee and fellow right-hander Sciver played strongly all around the innings and hardly mishit a shot. They pulled, cut and hit over the top and down the ground with great authority.
Cross, having earlier won the toss, took the only wicket of the innings when she bowled Lee late on in the ninth over but she conceded 42 in her two overs.
The 127 partnership is the second- highest by any pair in this season’s Super League, behind the 133 Western Storm openers Rachel Priest and Smriti Mandhana shared in a victory over Yorkshire at York earlier this month.
Lancashire’s hopes of finishing on a high were dashed long before the halfway mark in the game.
They finish 2019 with nine defeats and a tie, and have propped up the table in three seasons out of four.
Thunder won only six matches in all, five of them last year when they narrowly missed out on Finals Day.
But McGrath had some fun in the chase, nonetheless. She hit six fours and a huge six, over mid-wicket and out of the ground, in seven balls faced, taking the Thunder to 38 without loss after three overs.
But she fell to off-spinner Bryony Smith, who struck twice in the fifth over to remove McGrath and fellow opener Eve Jones, caught at long-off.
Another off-spinner, Hannah Jones, then struck three times in the seventh over to leave Lancashire staring at another defeat.
Thunder captain Kate Cross said: “That was pretty brutal. If an innings could sum up our Super League, we’ve just witnessed Lizelle have her day.
“Having said that, I think we had a brilliant effort in the second innings. We had to go out and not die wondering, and I thought Tahlia at the top of the order was brilliant. She hit the biggest six I’ve seen all tournament.
“It shows what we can do when we put our minds to it with the bat. But that innings of Lizelle’s was a masterclass. It felt like whatever plan we had, she had an answer for.
“Couple that with Nat Sciver. We were trying to get her on strike but she was doing exactly the same."
Of the Super League season as a whole, Cross added: “It’s been very, very disappointing. We’ve not fulfilled even half of the potential I thought we would have done at the start of the tournament.
“But when you don’t win a game in 10, it’s very easy to forget how close you were in some to winning. And we took four games to the last over.”