Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo
Southern Vipers 215 for 6 (Wyatt 53, Gordon 4-35) beat Lightning 214 for 9 (Beaumont 57, Norris 3-47) by four wickets
Danni Wyatt indicated that she wouldn't be giving up her place as England opener without a fight with a rapid half-century leading defending champions Southern Vipers to victory against Lightning in their Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy opening match.
With contender Lauren Winfield-Hill sending signals of her own from Headingley with 110 off 126 balls in a losing cause for Northern Diamonds against Central Sparks, Wyatt went industriously about her task of helping Vipers overhaul a modest target of 215 for a four-wicket win in Southampton.
Having established herself at the top of the order with a successful winter tour of New Zealand, Tammy Beaumont's 57 for Lightning reinforced that England's batting stocks look healthy heading into a busy international summer.
Georgia Adams, the Vipers captain who as leading run-scorer last year made a strong case to go to New Zealand before succumbing to a shoulder injury that required surgery, managed just 28 from 39 balls, but she gladly took the win, which was slightly more challenging that appeared likely as Lightning floundered at 43 for 4 inside 10 overs. The closeness of the contest largely came down to Kirstie Gordon's 4 for 35 which meant Vipers had to contend with losing wickets at regular intervals.
"We said as a team that we knew people were going to come after us hard and we're the team that people want to beat so we're chuffed to get a win at home," Adams said. "I don't think we hit our A game but I think it shows the depth that we have as a side and as a young side that we can still go out and win.
"It's always great having Danni back in the side and every time I bat with her she always looks in great form, and she hits the ball in unusual areas. She wanted those runs and she needed those runs and I think that that will give her a lot of confidence moving forward."
Wyatt managed scores of 17, 0 and 1 in the ODIs in New Zealand, while fellow opener Beaumont amassed 231 runs with three half-centuries from as many innings.
"Every England batter at the minute is scoring loads of runs, which is really good and it's healthy to have that competition for places because it pushes you to be even better and to work extra hard and think that your place is never certain," Wyatt said.
"It's really good to have that pressure and yeah, it makes you want it a little bit more and it can only be a good thing having the competition for places."
On Saturday, Wyatt carved the third ball she faced, off Sonia Odedra, deftly through the covers for four and she and Adams guided Vipers comfortably to 51 without loss from their first 10 overs.
Adams survived two chances, on 18 and 28, amid a rash of fielding errors by Lightning, although Lucy Higham limited the damage when Adams struck a Gordon delivery to her at mid-on to put the Vipers at 60 for 1.
Wyatt brought up her fifty from 55 balls running three off Higham but she fell a short time later, advancing down the pitch to Gordon and driving hard to extra cover, where Beaumont took a strong catch.
Maia Bouchier struck an enterprising 21 off 26 before sending a ball straight up in the air and Sarah Bryce, running forward from her position behind the stumps, took a comfortable catch as Gordon celebrated her third wicket with a deafening shout of: "Come on!"
Gordon and Bryce combined again to remove Georgia Elwiss and when Gordon caught Charlie Dean off Teresa Graves, Vipers were 171 for 5. But Dean and Paige Scholfield had broken the back of what remained of the run-chase. Tara Norris hit the winning runs off the second ball she faced as Scholfield remained unbeaten on 38 and Vipers sealed victory with 19 balls to spare.
Beaumont's half-century steadied Lightning after they faltered, having won the toss and chosen to bat first.
Both Bryce sisters fell cheaply, 20-year-old quick Lauren Bell had Sarah caught behind for a duck with the third ball of the match and, when Norris was introduced in the sixth over, she had Kathryn out fifth ball, skying a shot to Scholfield at deep backward square leg for 13.
Elwiss struck with her third ball, a beauty that uprooted Abi Freeborn's off stump and when Norris trapped Michaela Kirk lbw for nought, Lightning were in trouble.
Beaumont did her best to restore calm as wickets fell around her. She struck Charlotte Taylor, last year's leading wicket-taker, for four down the ground - one of six boundaries for Beaumont in total - before Taylor responded with the first ball of her next over as Odedra cut a wide delivery straight to point, where Dean took a simple catch.
Beaumont found a willing partner in Higham and the pair put on a valuable 59 runs for the sixth wicket. Beaumont brought up her fifty running two off Dean and turned Dean's next ball through fine leg for four. Dean had the final say, however, when Beaumont miscued a pull and was caught at square leg by Norris for 57.
Higham was caught by Dean off Norris when she top-edged a pull to deep square leg, ending a handy knock of 32 and leaving it to the Graves twins to try and lift Lightning's innings towards the 200 mark. Teresa Graves' pull shot off Norris over deep square leg for six brought up her team's 150 and she and sister Yvonne picked off 10 runs from the 45th over, bowled by Dean.
But Dean had Teresa out next over, chipping straight to Adams at midwicket, ending her knock on 32 and the union with her sibling worth 34 with Lightning 196 for 8.
Yvonne remained not out 22 but Lightning laboured to boost their total, the final over, bowled by Adams, yielding just one run and the wicket of Gordon, caught in the deep by Elwiss, as the visitors closed on 214 for 9.
Vipers conceded 23 extras, including 11 wides and two no balls by Bell, which will require some attention as they prepare for their next match, against South East Stars at Beckenham on Monday.
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