Western Storm 126 for 3 (Knight 41) beat Loughborough Lightning 125 for 6 (Jones 65, Davies 2-24) by seven wickets
England captain Heather Knight shrugged off the disappointment of a heavy defeat in the Ashes to lead Western Storm to a winning start in the Kia Super League.
Knight hit 41 as Storm eased to a seven-wicket win over the 2018 runners-up Loughborough Lightning, who were always up against it after posting a 20-over total of 126 for 6 at their Haslegrave Ground, despite a fine 65 from Knight's international team-mate Amy Jones. Storm completed their victory with 18 balls to spare after Knight and India batsman Smriti Mandhana had added 54 in just over seven overs for the second wicket.
Both fell to Sarah Glenn, both caught in the deep by Georgia Adams, who held on to a superb diving effort at long-off to deny Knight as she closed in on a half-century. But a couple of wickets for the promising legspinner was a small consolation for the home side.
Lightning had made an awful start when they batted, losing two of their overseas stars in the opening two overs after Georgia Elwiss had decided to bat first, neither of whom made a run.
The West Indies allrounder Hayley Matthews was out to the second delivery of the innings, leg before to England seamer Freya Davies. Sri Lanka's Chamari Atapattu was next, top-edging offspinner Claire Nicholas on the leg side as she tried to get off the mark, wicketkeeper Rachel Priest having time to jog round and take the catch.
When Elwiss became the third out for a duck, bowled by India offspinner Deepti Sharma, Lightning were 15 for 3. Storm could hardly have wanted a better start, conceding only three boundaries in the Powerplay overs as the home side limped to 27 for 3.
All three had come off the bat of Jones, who put behind her dismal white-ball form in the Ashes series to take charge, posting her second half-century in Lightning colours during a partnership of 77 for the fourth wicket with South Africa's Mignon du Preez.
She had a let-off on 44 when she was dropped at deep backward square off Nicholas, fielder Danielle Gibson picking up an injury in the process, but might have had added to her seven boundaries but for Storm's excellent ground fielding.
Jones lofted rookie Alex Griffiths for six over the short straight boundary and eventually fell for 65, a reverse sweep off Nicholas plucked out of the air nicely by substitute fielder Nat Wraith at short third man.
Good support came from du Preez, who hit 29 on her maiden Lightning innings before 17-year-old seamer Griffiths claimed her first KSL wicket, trapping the experienced former South Africa captain leg before with a full delivery. Georgia Adams made a useful 15 from 17 balls, Jenny Gunn cleared the boundary with her first hit and Kathryn Bryce, on her Lightning debut, struck the last ball of the innings for four but the total never seemed likely to be enough.
Storm, for whom Fran Wilson hit an unbeaten 33 and Davies took 2 for 24, have been the most consistent side since the KSL launched in 2016, appearing at every Finals Day so far and winning the competition in 2017. They will fancy themselves to go a long way again.