Lauren Winfield-Hill’s brilliant 49-ball 65, backed up by Jenny Gunn’s all-round heroics, helped the Diamonds qualify for the Charlotte Edwards Cup final at the expense of hosts Southern Vipers.
England’s Winfield-Hill, from number four, was the linchpin in 135-6 before the Vipers, who beat the Diamonds in last year’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final, got into a hole chasing in the midday semi-final at the Ageas Bowl.
Gunn claimed 4-26 from four overs in 117 all out. On a slow hybrid pitch, Vipers fell from 29-0 to 41-3 and later 75-5 in the 15th over to set up a Diamonds v South East Stars final.
The Diamonds had been plunged into early trouble with the loss of openers Leah Dobson, run out at the non-striker’s end from mid-off, and Bess Heath bowled by Lauren Bell - 16-2.
But Winfield-Hill calmly led the revival, sharing a third-wicket 59 with captain Hollie Armitage (25). By the time she reached her fifty off 41 balls, the Diamonds were 99-4 in the 17th. And shortly afterwards, she hammered Georgia Adams’ off-spin down the ground for the first of three sixes in the last three overs of the innings.
When Winfield-Hill was bowled trying to attack Adams, Diamonds were 114-5 after 17.5 overs. But 20 runs off the last two overs, including 16 off the last, gave them valuable momentum. Gunn crashed successive leg-side sixes in her unbeaten 22.
The Vipers’ chase reached 24-0 after four overs. But they soon lost 3-12 in three overs, including Gunn’s first - Adams caught at short mid-wicket off a miscued pull, 41-3 in the eighth over.
Vipers went seven overs without a boundary from midway through the eighth to midway through the 15th. In the 18th, Gunn put the final nail in the Vipers coffin by trapping Alice Monaghan lbw and bowling Bell with successive deliveries - 99-7.
She then defended 25 off the last over, removing Carla Rudd. Linsey Smith had also returned a superb 2-18.
Unfortunately, later that afternoon, the Diamonds lost the final against the Stars. But it should take nothing away from this particular performance.