SOUTHERN Vipers will look to claim a psychological advantage today in their bid for a second Kia Women’s Super League title.
The Ageas Bowl-based team have already qualified for the finals day at Hove this Sunday with one group match left to play.
They will take on Loughborough Lightning in the play-off semi-final for the right to take on the seemingly invincible Western Storm in the final.
Third-placed Vipers’ remaining group game is also against second-placed Loughborough - last season’s beaten finalists - at the Ageas Bowl tonight (6.30pm).
Having already won at Loughborough, Vipers will be aiming to complete a double - and then a treble at Hove at the end of this week.
Skipper Tammy Beaumont has overseen a major change in Vipers’ fortunes this month. Having finished bottom of the Super League last summer, the team are now in with a chance of repeating their 2016 win in the first ever staging of the T20 competition.
To do so, though, they will need two wins on finals day - including one against a Western Storm side who have won all nine group fixtures so far.
A key member of the Vipers team this year has been West Indian all-rounder Stafanie Taylor, with 205 runs (the 13th highest in the league) and eight wickets.
Taylor played for Storm in 2018 but has no regrets about her move south.
‘I find here a lot more laid back,” she said. ‘The players are freer. It is nice to be in an environment which isn’t quite as intense.’
Other main contributors to the Vipers this summer have been England batsman Danni Wyatt, who with 362 runs is the leading runscorer in the Super League, and left-arm seamer Tash Farrant.
Farrant has 12 wickets, the joint second-highest in the tournament. The only woman who has claimed more is Storm’s Chichester-born Freya Davies (15).
Wyatt top scored with 40 off 33 when Vipers beat Loughborough by two wickets earlier this month.
She has also plundered a century and three half-centuries in 2019, while her strike rate of 164.14 is also the highest of any of the top 10 leading runscorers.