Trent Rockets 151 for 4 (Priest 76) beat London Spirit 133 for 7 (Higham 2-12) by 18 runs
Trent Rockets put runs on the board and got themselves points on the table with an emphatic win over London Spirit at Lord's. Set up by a belligerent innings from opener Rachel Priest, who scored 64 of her 76 runs in boundaries, Rockets became the first team in the women's competition to pass 150 - a demanding target that Spirit did not have the requisite firepower to chase down.
On a hybrid surface that had only been used once, after the men's London derby fixture was washed out at the weekend, Priest did the lion's share of the scoring as Rockets added a century stand for the first wicket before eventually departing for 76 from 42; at which point Nat Sciver put a further dent in the home side's spirits by crashing 32 from 16. Freya Davies was the only bowler to go at less than a run a ball, with Spirit's efforts hampered by a request from CWI that Deandra Dottin not bowl.
In their reply, the returning Tammy Beaumont, who missed Spirit's opening two fixtures after attending her brother's wedding, struck her second and third balls for four before falling to Kathryn Bryce as they slipped to 25 for 2 inside the Powerplay. Dottin hammered Katherine Brunt for an imposing six over long-on as she and Heather Knight guided them to 70 for 2 at halfway - but sharp work from Priest and Sarah Glenn saw Dottin run-out backing up for 29 off 19 and the rest of innings fell away.
Priest repays faith
New Zealand veteran Priest had made a grand total of eight runs off ten balls (with two scoring shots) across Rockets' first two matches in the tournament, defeats to Southern Brave and Northern Superchargers. But on a belting surface at Lord's, Priest brought the benefit of five Women's T20 World Cups and three 50-over World Cups to bear to post a formidable 151 for 4.
Priest and Sammy-Jo Johnson made a steady start, taking the score to 26 for 0 at the end of the Powerplay. But the introduction of Chloe Tryon's left-arm spin for the next set - possibly a match-ups decision with two right-handers on strike - helped grease the wheels. Tryon's first ball was a high full toss that was dumped for four (as well as being called a no-ball), and although the free hit went begging, the next ball became the first of Priest's four leg-side mows for six; then another four disappeared through point.
Confident in her ability to pummel boundaries, Priest was happy to soak up a few dots - she faced 13 in the course of her innings - and pounce when offered up a morsel. She should have been caught by Beaumont at deep midwicket on 40, but the ball instead ended up trickling to the rope, and she then tucked into Charlie Dean's offspin with a thump down the ground followed by another heave to leg, raising a 29-ball fifty. At the point Spirit took their strategic timeout, Priest had 71 from 36 with 40 balls still remaining in the innings, and was on track for the first hundred in the new format - only for Beaumont to atone with an excellent running catch off the 67th.
With Johnson playing an anchoring role, Rockets looked to their captain for an injection of rocket fuel during the closing stages of the innings. Sciver duly obliged, ticking along to 8 off 7 before dismantling Danielle Gibson during the 17th set of the innings. The first of three consecutive boundaries had an element of fortune about it, as she managed to clear Alice Monaghan at long-on, despite the ball landing a few yards inside the rope. But there was a touch of naked brutality about the back-to-back sixes that followed: a clean punch over mid-off that just kept going and going, and then an almighty crack that sailed beyond long-on, measured at 82 metres.
It wasn't to cost them in the end, but the Rockets innings ended up having a slightly lopsided look to it. With Johnson batting through until the last 15 balls for 25 off 34, and Sciver holing out in the final set, there was a sense that they could have racked up an even bigger score. Between them, Priest and Sciver managed 108 from 58, while Johnson, Katherine Brunt and Heather Graham made 34 off 43 (and yes, that does add up to 101 balls bowled - because Priest's tally includes a no-ball that was hit for four).
Spirit fade out
The partnership between Dottin and Knight kept Spirit in with a chance, adding 45 from 28 balls to leave them needing a steep - but not unconquerable - 80 from 50. Both players benefited from dropped catches as Rockets began sloppily but it was a piece of fielding that helped break the stand - Priest was alert to possibility when Knight came down the pitch and padded into the off side, the wicketkeeper racing up and relaying to Glenn, who removed the bails with Dottin well short of regaining her ground.
From that point, it was largely a case of the visiting side keeping their composure. Lucy Higham was given her first bowl of the tournament and struck straight away, as Deepti Sharma shovelled a full toss to short fine leg - Bryce holding on above her head. Another fine catch, Emily Windsor running in from deep backward square, saw off the dangerous Tryon, and when Knight chipped to mid-off with 52 needed from 25, the contest was all but done, despite some lusty lower-order biffing from Dean and Gibson that narrowed the eventual margin of victory.