Hollie Armitage, Lauren Winfield-Hill fifties seal victory for Diamonds

Eve Jones scores 91 in losing cause as Sparks fall to second defeat in three games

Northern Diamonds 215 for 5 (Armitage 60*, Winfield-Hill 50, Kalis 46) beat Central Sparks 214 for 6 (Jones 91, Freeborn 48*) by five wickets

Northern Diamonds continued their strong start to the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy campaign with a highly impressive five-wicket win over Central Sparks at New Road, Worcester.

Diamonds made it three wins out of three by restricting the home side to 214 for 6 from their 50 overs and then chasing down the target comfortably, reaching 215 for 5 with 64 balls to spare.

After Sparks chose to bat, only Eve Jones (91, 128 balls) imposed any command over a tight collective bowling effort by the visitors. Emma Marlow led the way with 2 for 37 while there was a wicket apiece for Rachel Slater, Leigh Kasparek and Linsey Smith.

Diamonds then organised the chase to perfection, based around two decisive partnerships. Openers Lauren Winfield-Hill (50, 55) and Smith added 74 in 15 overs and third-wicket pair Hollie Armitage (60 not out, 63 balls) and Sterre Kalis put on 108 in 18.

Jones dominated the Sparks innings but support for her from the rest of the top order was fleeting. Stephanie Butler, Thea Brookes and Ami Campbell all reached double figures but failed to get to 20 as disciplined Diamonds bowling pared away at the batting.

Jones was closing in on a well-deserved century when she was smartly stumped by Winfield-Hill off Kasperek and it was left to Abigail Freeborn with an unbeaten 48 to lift the total over 200. The innings contained only 12 fours and no sixes.

Sparks’ total appeared to be around 20 or 30 light and so it transpired after Winfield-Hill and Smith provided Diamonds with exactly the platform they needed. Leg-spinner Hannah Baker removed both openers but Armitage and Kalis settled any Diamonds nerves with another strong stand.

Grace Potts returned to the attack to have Kalis caught and trap Pheobe Turner lbw but the double blow came too late for Sparks who were left to digest their second defeat in three games.

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