Vipers fight back to retain Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy

Southern Vipers fought back to successfully defend the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title as they inflicted a third successive defeat in a final on Northern Diamonds with a thrilling last-over win at Northampton.

Diamonds – beaten by Vipers in last year’s inaugural Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and then by South East Stars in the final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup earlier this month – seemed set to break their duck as Jenny Gunn’s three-wicket burst reduced Vipers from 93-4 to 109-7 in their chase of 184.

© PA Southern Vipers celebrate retaining the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy title

However, Emily Windsor (47no off 97 balls) and Tara Norris (40no off 44) shared an unbroken eighth-wicket partnership of 78, with Windsor hitting the match-winning four to clinch a three-wicket win with two balls to spare.

Scorecard: Vipers vs DiamondsWomen’s cricket homepage

Vipers – who lost just one match in the competition all season – required 12 from the final 12 balls and went on to take Linsey Smith’s penultimate over, which featured a reverse-swept four from Norris, for 10 before Windsor ended the game by dispatching Beth Langston through midwicket.

Diamonds batter Ami Campbell (60 off 73 balls) had earlier followed her half-century in Wednesday’s play-off victory over Central Sparks in Scarborough with another important knock as her side added 67 for the final two wickets having tumbled from 112-4 to 116-8.

Campbell watched on as Bess Heath (25), Gunn (2), Langston (0) and Phoebe Graham (0) fell for four runs in the space of 13 deliveries across overs 34, 35 and 36, with Vipers captain Georgia Adams (4-35) having Gunn caught at midwicket and Langston pinned lbw in the 35th.

That was the second dramatic collapse of the Diamonds innings, with Hollie Armitage’s side having previously slumped from 72-1 to 73-4 once Smith (31) spooned Adams to extra-cover in the 21st over.

Campbell – who struck five boundaries in her innings – was on 13 at the fall of the eighth wicket but proceeded to add 28 with Katie Levick (8) for the ninth wicket and then 39 with Rachael Slater (6no) for the 10th before she was caught at long-off from the second ball of the 50th over.

Diamonds’ momentum continued at the start of the run chase with Langston (2-40) bowling Adams and Ella McCaughan for ducks as Vipers were reduced to 6-2 inside three overs.

The 2020 winners suffered another double blow when Georgia Elwiss (14) and Maia Bouchier (33) were caught behind and stumped by wicketkeeper Heath off Graham and Levick respectively as 47-2 became 67-4.

Windsor and Gaby Lewis (24) rebuilt with a stand of 31, only for Gunn to put Diamonds in firm control with three wickets in four overs.

Gunn bowled Lewis with the first ball of her spell and then had Paige Scholfield (9) and Carla Rudd out to successive deliveries in the 35th over.

Scholfield was caught brilliantly by a diving Armitage at cover and Rudd fell lbw for a golden duck, at which point Vipers were 75 runs shy of victory with just three wickets in hand and the required run rate up at five an over.

But Windsor anchored the chase – she only struck two boundaries all day – as Norris played the more aggressive role, with their partnership ensuring Vipers remain the only side to have lifted the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

Watch the fifth and final ODI between England Women and New Zealand Women, at Canterbury, live on Sky Sports Cricket and the Sky Sports Cricket YouTube channel from 10.30am on Sunday.

Vipers captain Georgia Adams took four wickets but was then out for a duck Jenny Gunn (right) took three wickets for Diamonds but her side still slipped to defeat Emily Windsor hit an unbeaten 47 as Southern Vipers beat Northern Diamonds by three wickets in Northampton

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