MATCH REPORT | SUNRISERS v CENTRAL SPARKS
Match Report provided by the ECB Reporter's Network
Grace Scrivens, Amara Carr and Mady Villiers all hit half-centuries as Sunrisers stunned Central Sparks to register back-to-back wins in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy for the first time.
Teenager Scrivens, leading the side in place of the injured Dane van Niekerk, scored a gritty 51 and Carr struck 58 before Villiers’ explosive knock of 56 from 46 balls all but wrapped up a four-wicket victory at Chelmsford.
Their efforts overshadowed a magnificent maiden hundred by Abbey Freeborn, who batted through all but nine deliveries of Sparks’ innings for an unbeaten 107 from 140 that enabled her side to post 227 for eight.
But it was not enough for the visitors, who slip out of the play-off places after Sunrisers – having failed to win a single game in the tournament’s first two editions – chased down the target with five overs to spare.
Sparks opted to bat after winning the toss, yet their start was less than ideal as Eva Gray opened up with a maiden and Kate Coppack bowled Bethan Ellis off her pads without a run on the board.
Freeborn was soon into her stride, pummelling Coppack’s half-volley to the cover fence and overtaking partner Eve Jones as she clipped Amu Surenkumar for another boundary to raise the visitors’ 50 in the 10th over.
Smart running helped to keep the scoreboard ticking over, but spin duo Scrivens and Jodi Grewcock (two for 36) gained some degree of control and it was the latter who broke the partnership of 99.
The leg-spinner tempted Jones down the track for Carr to take off the bails and that stifled the scoring rate, with shrewd bowling changes earning Sunrisers further success as Gray and Jo Gardner (two for 21) collected wickets in the space of five deliveries.
With Katie George drilling Grewcock straight to cover and Gardner’s flight deceiving Charis Pavely, Sparks slumped to 167 for six but Emily Arlott’s pugnacious 22 helped them clamber above 200.
Although Freeborn advanced to a deserved century, Scrivens marshalled her attack cleverly and a death-overs charge never materialised, ensuring Sunrisers would chase just above four and a half per over.
However, accurate powerplay bowling from Arlott (two for 33) and Grace Potts meant the home side initially struggled to gain traction, with the ball crossing the rope just once before Arlott had Ariana Dowse taken at gully in the eighth over.
Grewcock, having just carved off-spinner Georgia Davis to the point boundary, departed lbw later in the over, but Carr and Scrivens dug in to nudge Sunrisers towards the target with a resolute partnership of 80.
The skipper progressed to her third half-century of the tournament before falling leg before to Hannah Baker and, despite that setback, Carr followed suit by clouting an Ellis full toss to the midwicket fence.
Villiers eagerly took up the baton after Scrivens’ departure, dispatching Davis (two for 43) for successive boundaries and dominating the strike, with a single Baker over disappearing for 15 before another leg-side four off Arlott took her to a 40-ball half-century.
Sparks sensed a glimmer of hope when they prised out Carr and Villiers in successive overs with 25 still required, but Gardner and Surenkumar saw their side across the line.