Stars squeeze past holders Vipers in thriller

However, that was Vipers’ sole success until the 14th over when Dunkley – on the verge of a third half-century in three games – was lured out of her crease by the wily Smith (1-20) for Rhianna Southby to lift the bails.

Redmayne (39 from 38) soon followed, holing out to deep midwicket off Lauren Bell and a tight spell of 1-23 by seamer Freya Davies, who claimed the wicket of Emma Jones, also helped to stem the Stars’ momentum.

Clean striking by Paige Scholfield, who thrashed successive Georgia Adams deliveries for four and six and finished undefeated on 34 from 22, ensured that they set the champions a competitive target.

Stars initially struggled to find a consistent length with the ball and, although Maia Bouchier fell cheaply, bowled around her legs by Corteen-Coleman, Danni Wyatt and Charli Knott made swift progress in the powerplay.

Knott dispatched Corteen-Coleman for successive fours before she was bowled swinging across the line at Smith and Wyatt – who had been ruthless on anything wayward in her quickfire 34 from 17 – then pulled Gregory to deep midwicket.

Smart glovework by Redmayne behind the stumps accounted for both Freya Kemp and Adams and, when Smith prised out Georgia Elwiss with a ball that spun back at her, Vipers were floundering.

Dean managed the strike shrewdly, collecting enough boundaries to keep her side in contention but, when she was run out at the non-striker’s end with nine still needed, the game was up for the cup holders.