Nat Sciver stars with bat and ball to take Surrey Stars into final
It appeared Fran Wilson was taking Western Storm towards victory, but she lost strike towards the end of the chase while the Stars' bowlers held their nerve
Surrey Stars 162 for 5 (Sciver 71*, Kapp 32*) beat Western Storm 153 for 6 (Wilson 58*) by nine runs
Captain Nat Sciver led from the front as Surrey Stars reached the final of the Kia Super League after they beat defending champions Western Storm by nine runs at Hove.
Sciver made an unbeaten 72 then took 2 for 21 as Surrey recovered from 72 for 5 to post 162 for 5 after being put in. Sciver also marshalled her bowling resources effectively when it looked as if Fran Wilson, who made an unbeaten 58, and Heather Knight were taking Storm to their third successive final.
"I thought the girls were outstanding. It was a good pitch but we got a score we felt was defendable," Sciver said. "Fran and Heather played well but we knew if we could get one of them out we could build pressure at the end. I was delighted to get a score out there. My form has been pretty good and it was nice to contribute in a big game such as a semi-final."
Surrey were struggling for momentum halfway through their innings. They were 62 for 4 after ten overs and then lost Sophia Dunkley in the 12th when she was bowled by Knight.
But Sciver and South African Marizanne Kapp pulled things around in a stand of 90 in 9.5 overs. Sciver took her competition aggregate to 322 runs with her second half-century as she equalled the record score on Finals Day, with 11 fours from 43 balls faced. Kapp's ball-striking was equally impressive as Stars plundered 58 off the last five overs.
In the absence of India's Smitri Mandhana, the leading run scorer in the tournament with 421 runs, Storm needed a big contribution from Knight and after the early loss of pinch-hitter Anya Shrubsole and Rachel Priest the England captain she put on 33 with Stefanie Taylor before forging what looked like being a match-winning stand with England hopeful Wilson.
They added 54 in 7.1 overs with Knight prepared to adopt the supporting role as Wilson played impressively all around the wicket.
When Knight was bowled sweeping legspinner Dunkley in the 15th over, Storm needed 45 off 31 deliveries but no one was able to give Wilson the support - or enough of the strike - to get Storm over the line. Wilson's runs came off 45 balls and included nine fours.
Dane van Niekerk had Sophie Luff superbly caught by Kapp running in from the midwicket boundary in the 17th over and when Sciver bowled Naomi Dattani off the first ball of the final over, which began with Storm needing 14 to win, the game was effectively won.
"We thought it was a total we could chase on what was a decent wicket. When Fran and I were out there we just wanted to keep it down to under nine or ten an over and we were doing that when I got out," Knight said. "Fran played really well but we just struggled to pick up the momentum again at the end. It's a shame but I'm really proud of how we've done in the tournament, the girls have played exceptionally well and it's a shame we have just come up short."