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Match Report provided by the ECB Reporters' Network

Sophia Dunkley responded to being left out of the England squad for the upcoming series against Pakistan by hitting a sparkling 67 (89 balls) to help lead South East Stars to a commanding five-wicket victory over Sunrisers in this top-of-the-table clash in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Northampton.

Brilliantly supported by a destructive Alice Davidson-Richards (50), the pair shared a second-wicket stand of 105 as Stars chased down 223 to win in 47.5 overs, after skipper Bryony Smith (34) laid the foundation in a 53-run opening partnership with Tash Farrant.

Dunkley, who was told by England coach Jon Lewis to get back to playing her best cricket, hit a few aggressive boundary shots early on, but paced her innings perfectly, relying on exquisite timing and placement to keep the scoreboard ticking. After she and Davidson-Richards both departed, Phoebe Franklin was there to see her team home.

Sunrisers had failed to capitalise on winning the toss and batting first for the first time this season, losing wickets at regular intervals as they posted 222 for nine with Alexa Stonehouse, Davidson-Richards and Kalea Moore each taking two wickets.

Flo Miller (30) top scored, with several other players making starts before getting out to soft dismissals. Extras (29) provided the second highest contribution to Sunrisers’ total, Stars conceding 19 runs from wides.

Sunrisers went into this game at the top of the table on 15 points after four games, just one point ahead of Stars and they quickly lost Amara Carr in only the second over, when she fell lbw to England quick Farrant without scoring.

Batting appeared difficult early on, on a sluggish pitch with a slow outfield following torrential rain yesterday. With batters finding it hard to force the ball off the square, most of Sunrisers’ boundaries came off full tosses or anything short.

In-form captain Grace Scrivens (15), fresh from an unbeaten century against Central Sparks, helped push Sunrisers’ score up to 43 before she was bowled by Stonehouse.

Cordelia Griffith made 28, dispatching a full toss from Farrant over square leg for six, before she chipped Stonehouse to Franklin at midwicket.

Stars then turned to spin twins Kalea Moore and Dani Gregory who bowled 12 overs in tandem, with Moore striking in her fourth over when she bowled Mady Villiers.

Northamptonshire batter Jodi Grewcock (24) combined with Amu Surenkumar (25) to take Sunrisers into three figures, but their fightback ended when Grewcock tamely chipped Moore back for the simplest of caught and bowled chances.

Leg spinner Gregory struck when she tossed one up to Surenkumar who drove loosely, Franklin taking another straightforward catch at midwicket.

When Stars turned back to Franklin’s seamers, Northamptonshire’s Jo Gardner pulled hard, but Farrant took a good diving catch at midwicket with Sunrisers seven wickets down and only 148 on the board.

Miller’s innings ended when she top-edged Davidson-Richards, substitute fielder Bethan Miles taking an excellent catch running back over her shoulder. Then Nicola Hancock (16) tried to play Davidson-Richards over the leg-side and gave Franklin her third catch.

Sunrisers had to thank their last wicket pair for pushing them above 200 as Esmae MacGregor and Kate Coppack shared an unbeaten, enterprising stand of 35.

For Stars, Smith played an aggressive hand (six fours), driving down the ground and through midwicket. She smashed Hancock and Villiers over long-on for two further boundaries before swinging Hancock high over fine leg for another as she took Stars past 50 in the eleventh over, well ahead of the required run rate.

Farrant (20) in her new role as opener, threaded the ball perfectly between two offside boundary fielders for four before she was bowled by Grewcock’s first delivery. Smith’s stay ended three overs later when she was trapped lbw by Villiers.

That brought Dunkley to the crease, who looked in good touch from the start, hitting Villiers over a leaping midwicket and pulled her hard for another boundary.

Davidson-Richards meanwhile got off the mark by smashing Grewcock down the ground and greeted Gardner by driving to the ropes to bring up Stars’ 100. She stepped down the track to deposit Scrivens over long-on for six but fell when she went to cut Villiers and edged behind to Carr.

Franklin was happy to go for her shots, hitting boundaries through the covers and down the ground. Despite some nerves when Dunkley fell with Stars on 205 for four, caught behind off MacGregor, and when Aylish Cranstone was adjudged lbw to Hancock, Franklin remained calm and hit the winning runs with 13 balls to spare.

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