London Spirit squeeze home in tight finish after all-round show holds off Phoenix
Eve Jones top-scored for the home side but a total of 128 was never quite enough
London Spirit 132 for 7 (Dattani 34, Burns 2-15) beat Birmingham Phoenix 128 for 6 (E Jones 47, Dottin 2-28) by three wickets
London Spirit overcame a late clatter of wickets to scramble to a three-wicket win with four balls to spare at Edgbaston, as a crowd of 6,317 - a record for a domestic women's game outside of London in the professional era - were treated to another tense encounter in which Birmingham Phoenix did their utmost to defend a sub-par total of 128.
In the end, they fell short, but not before giving their visitors an almighty scare - primarily through the efforts of Emily Arlott, whose two wickets in three balls were followed by a third in four moments later, as the well-set Deepti Sharma
slapped an Erin Burns full-toss to deep midwicket, to reduce Spirit to a rocky 108 for 6, with exactly 20 from 20 required.
That equation had been chipped down to six from seven by Amara Carr and Charlotte Dean, when Katie Mack swept round from deep midwicket with a bullet return to run out Dean as she raced back for the second. However, Danielle Gibson settled the nerves with a first-ball reverse-sweep to level the scores, and the game too one ball later, as Georgia Elwiss was picked off through backward square for Gibson's matchwinning boundary.
Dattani seizes her stage
Spirit had been streaking away with the game in the early exchanges of their chase, thanks largely to Naomi Dattani
, an unheralded allrounder who seized an unlikely chance to set the tempo at the top of the order.
Had Tammy Beaumont not been a surprise absentee - she is quarantining for Spirit's first two games after being given permission to attend a family wedding
last week - Dattani may not have played at all. Instead she romped to 34 from 19, outgunning her more vaunted opening partner Deandra Dottin in the process. Dottin made a run-a-ball 9 before falling to the up-and-coming speedster, Issy Wong, who pinned her on the crease for a plumb lbw.
Devious Davies does for Verma
After winning the toss and bowling, London Spirit's early objective was a simple one - get rid of Shafali Verma as soon as feasibly possible. A brace of fours in Dattani's opening spell served early warning of her power and poise, even as Dottin prised an early opening by luring Mack in a cramped hack at a surprise full toss.
But Freya Davies
, whose lanky, languid action so had so nearly speared a first-ball yorker into Mack's off stump, returned for a second set with a stupendous piece of trickery. An outstanding slower ball floated down through Verma's advances to slap her leg stump and send her on her way for a run-a-ball 13, and when the captain, Heather Knight, popped up with a golden-arm first delivery that Arlott could only flash to short cover, Phoenix's top order were in ashes.
The Jones and Jones show
And yet, from 37 for 3 after 36 balls, Phoenix produced an admirable attempt to live up to their own name, as the Joneses - Eve
and Amy - came together in a stand of 64 from the next 31.
Complementing one another with their left-and-right combination, just as surely as they confounded Spirit's lines of attack, the pair took it in turns to propel the score forward - 14 fours and a six between them, the latter a fumble over the rope at square leg as Davies failed to cling on to a crashing pull from Amy Jones.
The return of Dean brought an end to their stand, as Amy gave herself room for a wipe over the off-side and had her stumps rearranged, while Eve missed out on a well-deserved fifty when she over-reached on a wide one from Dottin and toe-ended a looping chance to short cover.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket