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South East Stars 169/6 lost to Southern Vipers 171/4 by six wickets

Danni Wyatt smashed 40 off 20 balls as Charlotte Edwards Cup holders Southern Vipers began their defence with a six-wicket victory over South East Stars, where they completed the highest successful chase in the Cup’s history.

Opening batter Wyatt plundered five fours and a pair of sixes to put Vipers on track in their chase of 170.

Maia Bouchier impressed with a quick-fire 30 and Lauren Bell claimed two for 25 for Vipers, while Bryony Smith and Sophia Dunkley clocked thrilling half-centuries to give the on-looking England head coach Jon Lewis plenty to consider ahead of the Ashes.

But Georgia Elwiss and Charlie Dean got Vipers over the line with seven balls to spare.

Having been stuck in by Vipers, it was Dunkley that began the first wicket blitz with a drilled boundary off her first ball but Smith soon took over.

The Stars captain was clinically brutal in her ball striking on a belting hard wicket with a quick outfield at the picturesque and friendly Falkland Cricket Club.

The boundary was lined with about 400 spectators including 160 students from local schools – many of which used the net facilities and practiced their cricket skills. They cheered on Smith as she rushed to her half-century in 26 balls with her 11th four.

Vipers offered a series of chances: Dunkley dropped on 35 and 36 while Linsey Smith couldn’t hold a Smith skier before Smith thumped back-to-back sixes as 200 looked on the cards.

The only way to part the openers was by their own misadventure, and that came when Alice Monaghan speared in a throw from deep square leg to run out Smith for 83.

It ended a 134-run stand and sparked a last 35 ball slow down which saw only 35 runs added and six wickets fall.

Dunkley reach her maiden Charlotte Edwards Cup half-century, and 11th in T20s, in 42 balls but was soon caught behind giving herself room to cut.

Paige Scholfield spooned to deep square leg before three wickets in the final over – Alice Davidson-Richards and Tash Farrant bowled by Lauren Bell and Kira Chathli run out to leave the visitors on 169.

Like the Stars, the Vipers’ openers – Maia Bouchier and Danni Wyatt tonked the ball around in the powerplay. Both had struck maximums before the end of the third over as their fifty stand arrived in 24 balls.

Like Smith, Bouchier was run out in full flow – for an 18-ball 30, but Wyatt kicked into overdrive with an effortless hoick for a second six as the Vipers stormed to 79 for one off the powerplay.

Australian Nicole Faltum was brilliantly caught at cover by Dunkley before Wyatt skewed to backward point for 40 as Stars dragged things back in the middle overs.

Georgias Adams and Elwiss put Vipers in control again with a 48-run stand, but the former was the fourth batter to be run out with 29 runs still needed.

The earlier heavy scoring had meant the rate was give-or-take a run-a-ball for the death and Elwiss and Dean carefully took their side to victory and condemn Stars to a second defeat in two matches.Kelly Castle was savagely cut and then driven for four in the next over by the teenager as 61 were rattled up in the powerplay, but having raced to 24 in eight balls, Capsey holed out on the fence to spinner Abtaha Maqsood’s first ball.

Villiers and Maqsood both failed to cling on to tough caught and bowled chances offered by Smith soon afterwards, but the opener’s luck ran out when she lofted Gray into Gardner’s hands at deep mid-wicket.

Stars were however well ahead of the rate and although Scholfield failed with the bat and Franklin departed just shy of the target, Stars got home with something to spare.

Smith said: “It is disappointing. There are a lot of positives to take from both games, two close games, which will do us good. It was small margins in both games but unfortunately, we were on the wrong side both times.