Skipper Suzie Bates wants Southern Vipers to finish a disappointing Kia Super League campaign on a winning note.
Vipers’ four-wicket loss to Surrey Stars at Hove on Tuesday means the 2016 champions have missed out on a third successive appearance at Finals Day.
But opponents Lancashire Thunder have plenty to play for when they travel to the Ageas Bowl on Saturday (7pm).
Victory for Thunder, and defeat for Stars at home to Western Storm, would allow Lancashire to sneak into third place and join already qualified Western Storm and Loughborough Lightning at Hove on August 27 for Finals Day.
READ MORE Vipers lose to Stars despite Bates' brave effort | Western Storm claim finals day place despite Vipers match being called off | Southern Vipers skipper Danni Wyatt says her side will be going all out to finish strongly
Bates said: “We owe it to ourselves and the other teams to try and finish strongly on Saturday.
“Looking back, we didn’t play very good cricket during our week in the north and that was a shame.
“We did respond after that but we have also been on the wrong end of some close finishes. Our poor start put extra pressure on us for this end of the group stage and we have come up short.”
Tuesday’s game against Stars summed up Vipers’ season. Bates scored a brilliant 82 off 57 balls in their total of 147 for 9 and when they dismissed Nat Sciver (46) and Sarah Taylor (38) to leave Stars needing 27 off 15 balls the odds were tilted in their favour.
But in a disastrous start to the final over, which began with Stars needing nine to win, Danni Wyatt conceded two penalty runs and a free hit after hitting the stumps in her follow-through. Marizanne Kapp hit the free hit for six and Surrey were home and dry.
Vipers have been harder hit than their rivals by injuries and unavailability. At some stage Tammy Beaumonth, Wyatt, Tash Farrant and Katie George have all missed games, although in the absence of Farrant, Lauren Bell has proved to be a more than capable new-ball replacement, conceding just 16 runs in her four-over spell on Tuesday.
"We thought we could defend that total. Lauren bowled superbly up front and has really stepped up in the last few games but we couldn't break partnerships and it wasn't to be – it sort of summed up our tournament,” added Bates.
“The run out of Nat (Sciver) and the wicket of Sarah (Taylor) could have been turning points in our favour, but sadly they weren't in the end.
“It’s disappointing but we want to finish off strongly, especially in front of our own supporters.”