Stars 289 for 8 (Dunkley 97, Davison-Richards 61, Patel 4-52) beat Sunrisers 212 (Carr 99, Smith 3-25) by 77 runs
After their disappointing loss in the opening round of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, South East Stars came back strongly in their second outing to defeat Sunrisers by 77 runs at Beckenham, thanks to a hard-hitting 97 from England's Sophia Dunkley.
Dunkley fell agonisingly short of bringing up the first century of the competition, but nonetheless successfully set up victory for her side, sharing a 123-run partnership for the fourth wicket with her England team-mate Alice Davidson-Richards to take Stars to a total of 289 for 8.
With Sunrisers requiring a record-breaking effort - no side has ever chased down more than 280 in women's List A cricket in England - captain Amara Carr tried valiantly to overcome the odds, but eventually faced double disappointment, falling for 99 as her side were bowled out for 212 in 45.5 overs.
Stars had put a dent in the Sunrisers' hopes early on in their chase - captain Tash Farrant beating Katie Midwood for pace with her third ball of the day to take out her middle stump, leaving them 0 for 1.
While Fran Wilson and Carr then shared a fifty-run partnership for the second wicket, they were consistently behind the required rate, and Wilson's departure in the 11th over - caught at midwicket for 29 trying to push the score along - signalled the start of a slow but steady collapse. Along the way Dunkley added two scalps to her day's account, while Bryony Smith finished with 3 for 25.
Carr continued to battle away at one end, gradually coming out of her shell as her innings progressed, with the highlight an audacious scoop for four to take her into the 90s. Unfortunately for Sunrisers, she was eventually stumped coming down the track to Smith in the 42nd over, and there was no one to take up the mantle. Sunrisers sorely missed batter Cordelia Griffith, one of their three full-time professionals, who was unavailable for selection due to injury.
Earlier, having won the toss and chosen to bat first, Stars had initially found themselves in trouble, with the scoreline reading 4 for 2 after the first three balls of the day had been bowled. Smith, having sent Katie Wolfe's first delivery sailing through the off side for four, then bottom-edged the next one to Carr behind the stumps, while Aylish Cranstone was clean bowled by an inswinger from the 19-year-old, bagging a golden duck.
However, Dunkley successfully faced down Wolfe's hat-trick ball, and - after the further loss of Alice Capsey in the sixth over - was able to marshal an effective recovery. Stars ended the first 10-over Powerplay with 55 runs on the board, doubling their scoring rate from Saturday's first-round match, and setting the groundwork for a total of almost 300 - the highest in the competition from any team so far.
Dunkley was ably supported by Davidson-Richards, who hit a 74-ball 61 before spooning up a straightforward catch to Wilson at cover in the 28th over - becoming the first of four scalps for seamer Sonali Patel. Former England star Susie Rowe yet again proved her mettle for Stars, with an aggressive cameo of 39 to ensure the innings finished strongly.
But it was Dunkley who was the real star of the show, combining sensible defence with the ability to send anything wide of the stumps flying towards the boundary - the kind of innings which Stars had so lacked in their opening match on Saturday.
Though she eventually fell in the 40th over three runs short of her century, nervously pulling Jo Gardner straight to midwicket, Dunkley - who has not played an international since March 2019 - will be hopeful that she has done enough to convince England coach Lisa Keightley, present at Beckenham, that she is raring to go in the forthcoming series against West Indies.