Ami Campbell picked the perfect time to post her first half-century of a previously difficult summer as the Diamonds set up a repeat of last season’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final, against the Southern Vipers.
The Diamonds, beaten in their final group game against the Vipers at Southampton, travelled to Scarborough to host Central Sparks in the semi-final eliminator.
Left-hander Campbell racked up 76 off 78 balls in a comfortable chase of 176, sealing a win by seven wickets with 17.1 overs remaining. It meant they would play the Vipers once again at Northampton three days later.
Campbell had struggled for form at the start of 2021 before being struck down by Coronavirus during the Hundred, delaying her return to action until the closing weeks of the campaign.
Beth Langston, Rachel Slater and Linsey Smith claimed two wickets before 42 apiece for Gwen Davies and Ria Fackrell recovered the Sparks from 68-5 to 175-7.
Diamonds then fell from 33-0 to 42-3 in reply before aggressive Campbell and more reserved Sterre Kalis (42 not out) shared a telling 116 for the fourth wicket.
In-form Sparks captain Eve Jones elected to bat amidst morning dew and was one of three wickets to fall inside the opening 10 overs - 35-3 - after miscuing a cut at Slater’s left-arm seam to point.
Marie Kelly and Issy Wong were both trapped lbw for golden ducks, the latter as one of two wickets in three balls for left-arm spinner Smith in the 17th (68-5).
Davies and Fackrell played in reserved fashion in their attempt to turn the tide.
They managed to gain respectability with the help of Emily Arlott’s 29.
Fackrell and Arlott shared an unbroken 74 for the eighth wicket, but it proved nowhere near enough following returns of 2-29 and 2-25 from Langston and Smith.
Captain Hollie Armitage then got the chase off to a flyer with five fours in her first nine balls before falling for 25.
England fringe seamer Arlott then struck twice as the score fell to 42-3 after nine overs. But that was as good as it got for Sparks, who were faced with a 51-ball fifty for Campbell.