Women's Super League: Western Storm beat Southern Vipers to win title
|Kia Women's Super League final, 1st Central County Ground, Hove|
|Southern Vipers 172-7 (20 overs): Wyatt 73, Beaumont 33; Shrubsole 2-26|
|Western Storm 174-4 (19 overs): Knight 78*, Sharma 39; Farrant 2-19|
England captain Heather Knight scored an unbeaten 78 as Western Storm chased down a target of 173 to beat Southern Vipers and win the Super League title.
Vipers looked favourites for victory at Hove after Danni Wyatt's 73 off 42 balls helped them to 172-7.
In reply, Storm lost opener Smriti Mandhana for a first-ball duck but Knight paced her innings to perfection.
She shared an unbroken stand of 69 with Deepti Sharma (39 not out) as they reached 174-4 to win by six wickets.
Knight hit nine fours and three sixes in her ninth half-century in the four years of the competition, becoming the first player to score 1,000 Women's Super League runs.
And in the last WSL final, Storm become the only team to become Super League champions more than once - adding to their 2017 triumph.
The competition is to make way next summer for The Hundred, mention of which was booed by some members of the crowd during the post-match awards ceremony.
After a five-wicket win over Loughborough Lightning in the earlier semi-final, Vipers started in swashbuckling style, ending the six-over powerplay on 62-0 as Wyatt and fellow opener Suzie Bates proved impossible to control.
But they managed just 73 for the loss of six wickets from their final 10 overs as Anya Shrubsole caught Wyatt in the 15th over before adding the important wicket of Vipers skipper Tammy Beaumont (33).
The Vipers eventual total was a good one, but there was a feeling they could, and perhaps should, have added another 10-15 runs.
When India batter Mandhana was brilliantly caught by Marie Kelly from the third ball of Storm's innings their task looked unenviable, but Knight enjoyed useful partnerships with opener Rachel Priest (27) and Fran Wilson (18) before Sharma's aggressive knock helped her carry them to their target with an over to spare.
Wyatt unfortunate to end on losing side
For much of the day it seemed that Vipers' Wyatt would be the star player. The England all-rounder also hit 31 off 17 in the semi-final, as well as taking four catches and contributing to a run-out across her two games.
Wyatt was the tournament's top run-scorer, with 466 runs at an eye-catching strike-rate of 166.42, but she struggled to have similar impact with the ball in the final, going for an expensive 23 runs off her two overs.
However, there can be no argument that Storm were the competition's outstanding side. They topped the group stage with nine wins from 10 to finish a whopping 17 points ahead of third-placed Vipers, who claimed just four victories.
Knight endured a mixed summer, having overseen a heavy home Ashes series defeat by Australia, but she came to the party with a high-quality innings in this repeat of the inaugural Super League final in 2016, which was won by Vipers.
Western Storm captain Heather Knight:
"At the break we'd done well to drag it back to 172. Because of the way Danni Wyatt was batting, at one stage it looked like we'd be chasing 200.
"We know we have a lot of depth in our batting line-up and if we could hang in there we could get close because it was an amazing wicket and you got full value for your shots. We felt that if we didn't let the rate get too high we could catch up at the end and that's what we did.
"Deepti Sharma took the pressure off me massively at the end with her innings. I was delighted we finished the job and gave the Super League the send-off it deserved."
Southern Vipers skipper Tammy Beaumont:
"I'm pretty gutted but all credit to Heather Knight, who played brilliantly.
"I thought 172 was a good score but we probably left a few runs out there and then perhaps didn't bowl or field as well as we did in the semi-final.
"I'm really proud of the girls because for most of the tournament we only had four overseas players but the domestic and county players have really stepped up during the tournament."