Levick takes four before Winfield-Hill, Armitage seal Diamonds chase

Northern Diamonds 166 for 1 (Winfield-Hill 69*, Armitage 61*) beat Thunder 165 (Levick 4-38) by nine wickets

Northern Diamonds cruised their way to an opening-day nine-wicket victory over Thunder at Chester-le-Street thanks to commanding performances from three of their most experienced players.

Veteran legspinner Katie Levick claimed 4 for 38 as the visitors were bowled out for 165 off 43.1 overs before England internationals Lauren Winfield-Hill and Hollie Armitage both hit unbeaten half-centuries as the hosts reached the modest target from 34.3 overs.

Only opening batter Seren Smale showed any real opposition with the bat for Thunder with a knock of 32 at the top of the order on a disappointing day for Ellie Threlkeld’s side who were a distant second best in all areas of the game.

Thunder never really recovered from the early blow of losing Emma Lamb, bowled by Jessica Woolston without scoring, with her fellow opener Smale subsequently struggling to find any partners of substance.

Australian debutant Katie Mack threatened to do the job with a breezy 19 before she was trapped in front by Abi Glenn who then bowled Fi Morris first ball to leave Thunder 40 for 3.

It was a busy day for the umpires with both Threlkeld and then Smale departing leg-before with the latter’s 32 the top score of the innings only matched by the same number of extras.

Threlkeld was Levick’s first victim as the legspinner turned the screw effectively with the runs drying up for Thunder despite some defiance from Namoi Dattani, Danielle Collins and Tara Norris as the visitors squeezed their way above 150.

It was Levick’s day though and last season’s leading wicket-taker for Diamonds took the last three wickets to fall to close with typically strong figures of 4 for 38 from 9.1 overs as Thunder were bowled out for a below-par 165.

Winfield-Hill and Sterre Kalis attacked from the start of the Diamonds innings and although both Phoebe Graham and Mahika Gaur bowled tightly they were unable to make a crucial early breakthrough for Thunder.

It was not until the 14th over when Diamonds had reached 59 and seen off the opening bowlers that the wicket finally came and when it did it was something of gimme: Kalis somehow scooping a full toss from slow-left armer Hannah Jones into the hands of Dattini at midwicket for 28.

Despite Threlkeld shuffling her pack, a second wicket failed to materialise with Armitage joining Winfield-Hill at the crease and the pair attacking Norris and Morris, in particular, with some powerful hitting.

Winfield-Hill eased past her half-century as the second-wicket partnership turned into a match-winning one with the only real drama concerning if Armitage would join her in reaching the landmark, which she did in the 34th over.

The century partnership came up shortly before the winning runs were hit leaving Winfield-Hill and Armitage both not out at the close of a very satisfying day for Northern Diamonds who claimed the bonus-point victory.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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