Lightning v Northern Diamonds: Jenny Gunn and Katherine Brunt shine as Diamonds squeeze home

Northern Diamonds bounced back from defeat against Central Sparks in their opening match by beating Lightning by six runs in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Kibworth in Leicestershire.

Key Partnership: Jenny Gunn, above, scored 40 and shared an 81 partnership with Alex MacDonald to set up Diamonds’ win. Picture: John Heald

Past and present England stars were the match-winners for Diamonds, veteran all-rounder Jenny Gunn top scoring with 40 as Diamonds recovered from 50-6 to total 151 before pace bowler Katherine Brunt took 4-23 as Lightning fell just short, 145 all out in the 49th over.

Kathryn Bryce took 4-16 for Lightning but Gunn’s 81-run seventh-wicket partnership with batting all-rounder Alex MacDonald, who made 39, was ultimately the decisive passage of play, 35-year-old former Lightning player Gunn hitting six boundaries.

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Put in after Lightning won the toss, Diamonds began badly. Kathryn Bryce’s second ball removed Lauren Winfield-Hill, who made 110 against Sparks, via a catch at cover and the medium-pacer soon had Diamonds captain Hollie Armitage caught at midwicket, with new-ball partner Sophie Munro striking another big blow when England star Nat Sciver drove her straight to mid-off.

Potent spell: England bowler Katherine Brunt took 4-23 to help Diamonds to victory

Brunt’s leading edge gave Bryce an easy return catch and when Teresa Graves bowled Sterre Kallis and had Ami Campbell was caught at mid-on in the same over, Diamonds were 50-6.

Left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon, who took four wickets against champions Southern Vipers on Saturday, went wicketless this time and it took the returning Bryce to account for Gunn via a top-edged pull to midwicket.

With the partnership broken, Diamonds lost their last four wickets for 20. Yvonne Graves had Beth Langston caught at mid-off, fellow off-spinner Lucy Higham bowled MacDonald for 39 and followed up by having Katie Levick caught behind.

Lightning were rocked by a brilliant opening burst by Brunt, who knocked back opener Sarah Bryce’s off-stump for a second ball duck – the second in as many matches for Lightning’s top scorer in 2020 – and had Kathryn Bryce edging behind.

Good knock: Diamonds' Alex MacDonald shared an 81-run partnership with Gunn. Picture: John Heald

Abbey Freeborn helped England opener Tammy Beaumont add 44 for the third wicket but then Lightning lost three wickets for six runs in 11 balls to be 57-5.

Freeborn was caught behind off bat and pad, Higham chipped Katie Kevick’s leg spin straight to extra cover before Beaumont was given out leg before to Sciver.

Lightning took the result closer than expected from that point but the Diamonds attack kept chipping away. Shachi Pai was lbw to the leg spin of Katie Levick and Brunt returned to have South African Michaela Kirk leg before.

Late runs from Gordon and both Graves sisters kept Lightning in the chase but after Yvonne Gordon holed out to mid-off off Brunt, Beth Langston had Gordon caught behind to clinch victory.

Diamonds next play Sunrise at Fenners on Saturday.

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