Western Storm’s hopes of reaching Charlotte Edwards Cup Finals Day were ended by South East Stars with Heather Knight unwell and unable to play.
Storm only managed 109-8 in the England captain’s absence and the Stars made 112-7 to win by three wickets.
Knight’s England team-mate Tammy Beaumont missed Lightning’s game with Northern Diamonds because of Covid.
Diamonds won a tight game by five runs, while Eve Jones hit 69 as Central Sparks beat Sunrisers by three runs.
Thunder face Group B leaders Southern Vipers in the day’s final game at Old Trafford, which begins at 19:00 – and victory for the Vipers will make certain of their place at Finals Day on 11 June.
Only the two group winners and the best second-placed team will progress, and if Vipers win, it will leave Sparks, Stars and Diamonds to fight it out for two places in the final round of group matches.
- Charlotte Edwards Cup tables
Stars edge home despite fielding lapses
Stars, the 2021 winners, kept Storm in check with some tight bowling at the start of their game – and were not made to pay heavily for a series of dropped catches.
Freya Davies put down a chance offered by Georgia Hennessey off her own bowling and the dangerous Sophie Luff was put down by Alice Capsey at square leg when she had made 10.
Neither could capitalise with Luff caught at deep mid-wicket for 13 off Danielle Gregory and Hennessey run out by Phoebe Franklin’s throw for 27, her departure leaving Storm on 46-3 in the 11th over.
Spinner Kalea Moore took 3-4 and although Fran Wilson made an unbeaten 33 off 30 balls and Alex Griffiths 16 after being dropped at long-off, their total did not look enough.
The Stars, though, made heavy weather of their chase, losing wickets at regular intervals, including Sophie Dunkley, who was superbly caught one-handed by Claire Nicholas off Sophia Smale (2-18).
Alice Davidson-Richards made a vital 35 off 25 balls before she was run out and Kira Chathli hit the winning boundary with three balls to spare.
Close call for Sparks
Group A leaders Central Sparks made a positive start at Northampton with Jones and Issy Wong sharing an opening stand of 92 in 12 overs before the latter fell to Abtaha Maqsood for 35.
Naomi Dattani took 2-39, including the wicket of Jones, who was caught behind after hitting two sixes and six fours in her 62-ball innings, as the home side totalled 146-5 from their 20 overs.
Sunrisers lost Mady Villiers in Wong’s opening over as they began their chase and were 55-5 before a stand of 81 between Amara Carr and Joanne Gardner revived their chances.
They needed 14 off the final over but Gardner was caught off Elizabeth Russell for 41 and Carr (37 not out off 29 balls) was not on strike for the final three balls as they came up just short on 143-6.
There was another big opening stand at the Riverside where Bess Heath (60) and Sterre Kalis (39) launched the Diamonds innings by putting on 93.
Skipper Hollie Armitage contributed 30 at a run per ball as they totalled 145-5 and then immediately removed the dangerous Marie Kelly for a duck at the start of Lightning’s reply.
Beaumont’s replacement Beth Harmer (35) and Ella Claridge (41) shared a 72-run partnership, but the innings gradually fell away as Armitage took 4-27 and Linsey Smith 3-18 and they were all out for 140, with Sarah Bryce running out of partners on 23 not out.
Old Trafford: Thunder v Lightning (14:30 BST)
Worcester: Central Sparks v Western Storm (14:30)
Ageas Bowl: Southern Vipers v Northern Diamonds (14:30)
Guildford: South East Stars v Sunrisers (14:30)