Lizelle Lee's commanding century powers Surrey to KSL title
The South African crunched a 55-ball hundred which overwhelmed the Loughborough Lightning attack
Surrey Stars 183 for 6 (Lee 104, Sciver 40) beat Loughborough Lightning 117 (Villiers 3-22, van Niekerk 3-37) by 66 runs
A magnificent 55-ball century from Lizelle Lee took Surrey Stars to their maiden Kia Super League title, her side racking up 183 or 6 - their highest KSL total - before bowling Loughborough Lightning out for 117. Fellow South Africans Marizanne Kapp and Dane van Niekerk then combined in lethal fashion to wipe out the Lightning top order, only three of their top six making it into double figures, before 19-year-old Mady Villiers finished off the tail with 3 for 22. Put in to bat for the second time in the day, Stars had got off to another tentative start, with Bryony Smith and Sarah Taylor once again falling cheaply. By the end of the Powerplay they had accrued just 44 for 2 - an identical score to their semi-final Powerplay against Western Storm earlier in the day.
Stars' eventual total, though, was 21 runs clear of their semi-final score, with the difference this time being one player: Lee. Taking the Lightning bowlers by the scruff of the neck from the outset, she wasted no time in belting Jenny Gunn over mid-off for the first six of Finals Day, before punishing the fourth over from Sophie Devine for four consecutive boundaries.
When her hundred came, brought up in characteristic fashion in the 16th over with a boundary through backward square leg, she had dished out similar punishments to each of the six Lightning bowlers. If any innings sums up Lee it was this one: far from pretty - at one point she swung and missed at the ball so hard that she ended up firmly on her backside behind the crease - yet nonetheless effective, built on sheer brute force.
While she rode her luck throughout, surviving several chances off left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon's opening over - the closest a catch put down on the long-off boundary by Georgia Adams, when Lee was on 37 and had barely got going - it was to prove no consolation for the disillusioned Lightning attack.
At the other end for much of the onslaught was captain Nat Sciver, the pair sharing a 111-run partnership for the third wicket. Sciver, fresh from her unbeaten 72 in the semi-final, was content to play second fiddle for much of the innings, though she produced some beautiful cover drives on her way to a 31-ball 40.
Neither finished the innings unbeaten - leading tournament wicket-taker Gordon adding the scalp of Lee to her successes as she was finally caught at long-off in the 17th over - but a 15-run cameo from van Niekerk ensured Stars cleared 180.
It was an intimidating total for Lightning and the loss of early wickets putting them on the back foot immediately. The injury of leading batsman Devine, who had to leave the field during Stars' innings after being struck on the wrist fielding a ball struck by Sciver, did not help matters, the absence perhaps contributing to her early dismissal lbw to Kapp in the second over of the innings. van Niekerk also struck early, sending England's Amy Jones back to the pavilion in the following over, before her two in two balls in the 10th did for Georgia Elwiss and Adams, and Loughborough sank to 63 for 6 at the halfway point.
But it was Stars' young bowlers who impressed most, Sophia Dunkley having the dangerous-looking Rachael Haynes caught at point and Villiers adding three wickets to her KSL haul, wrapping up the Lightning innings with a four-over spell that included 11 dot balls. In last year's competition Stars received much criticism after failing to hand the ball to any of their non-internationals once. It was fitting, then, that it was their young bowlers who helped them finally, three seasons in, lift the KSL trophy.
Raf Nicholson is a writer on and historian of women's cricket. @RafNicholson