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Thunder 165 for 5 (Lamb 63, Morris 44) beat South East Stars 149 (Smith 51) by 16 runs

A brilliant all-round performance from England’s Emma Lamb ensured Thunder kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the finals day of the Charlotte Edwards Cup following a thrilling 16-run victory over South East Stars.

Electing to bat at Blackpool’s Stanley Park, Thunder posted 165 for five with Lamb’s 63 the highlight of an entertaining contest between two sides needing to win to have any chance of progressing.

The game remained in the balance for much of the afternoon with Stars giving themselves a great chance after an opening stand of 87 before Thunder’s bowlers struck back in emphatic fashion to dismiss the visitors for 149.

Lamb dominated the Thunder innings from the start, hitting the first ball for a boundary before tucking into the Stars’ bowling with a combination of power and finesse.

Liberty Heap offered good support from the other end, hitting two fours of her own off Claudie Cooper’s first over as the opening pair reached an impressive 50 without loss off the first powerplay.

It could have been much better for Stars however. Underwhelming ground fielding proved harmful as the sixth over saw Cooper put down consecutive caught-and-bowled chances offered by Heap before Lamb was also easily grounded in the deep.

The first wicket partnership was finally broken in the eighth over for 58 when Phoebe Franklin uprooted Heap’s middle stump with the opener departing for 19.

Joined in the middle by Fi Morris, Lamb continued to attack with the England international bringing up her half-century with a delicate scoop shot off Ryana MacDonald-Gay before hitting the same bowler for two consecutive sixes.

Lamb’s dismissal for 63 after skying a Franklin delivery to Kalea Moore triggered a mini collapse from the hosts as Deandra Dottin and skipper Ellie Threlkeld both departed cheaply to Danielle Gregory to leave Thunder 120 for four and in danger of wasting their good start.

But Naomi Dattani proceeded to hit an excellent 30 off 18 balls to give the Thunder some priceless momentum as they closed on 165 for five with Morris the last batter out for 44 in the final over.

Stars’ reply set off in thrilling style with Bryony Smith and Paige Schofield attacking Mahika Gaur and Kate Cross from the outset.

By the end of the powerplay, Stars were 55 without loss and looking hungry for more with Smith bringing up her half-century off 31 balls with six fours and two sixes as the opening partnership shot to 87 off 58 balls.

Then came the turning point of the innings with Olivia Bell bowling Smith for 51 before trapping Scholfield in front for 31 two balls later to leave the visitors 88 for two and Thunder with renewed hope.

Hope turned to expectation when two wickets fell in consecutive Lamb balls with Aylish Cranstone brilliantly stumped by Threlkeld without scoring and MacDonald-Gay feathering her first ball behind as Stars were reduced to 95 for four.

Cross returned to remove England teammate Tash Farrant caught-and-bowled for six with Franklin falling the same way off Tara Norris for 12 as Stars’ began evaporating in the Blackpool sunshine.

Dattani completed an excellent all-round performance by picking up the wickets of Moore and Alexa Stonehouse with the visitor’s innings petering out to close on 149 all out.

Tash Farrant said: “We’re out of the tournament now but you’ve got to dust yourself off and move on to the next game. We’re disappointed but we’ve had five really close games in which we haven’t got over the line – T20 cricket can change in the space of a couple of balls but we’ve shown really good fight in every game we’ve lost so there are always positives.”