Southern Brave 153 for 8 (Mandhana 46, Kemp 24, Smale 2-12) beat Oval Invincibles 141 for 7 (Winfield-Hill 25, Adams 2-16, Wyatt 2-16) by 12 runs
Marizanne Kapp was fit to return after missing the opening game through illness and her return demanded a tough call, with four top-class overseas players in the squad and only three permitted in the playing XI. Jonathan Batty, Invincibles’ head coach, was expected to leave out Suzie Bates, but her innings of 46 off 34 against Northern Superchargers saw her keep her place.
Mandhana missed the final week of the Hundred last year, returning home to see her family before flying to Australia for India’s tour, and their batting wasn’t the same without her: in the final, they folded to 73 all out – which represented something of a recovery from 14 for 6. While there is no guarantee she would have kept out Kapp’s high-class opening spell on that day, this was a reminder of what Brave had missed.
She was up and running immediately, creaming her first ball – from Kapp, no less – through the covers for four and hit six fours in her first 13 deliveries, punishing Kapp and Shabnim Ismail when they missed their lengths. When she slog-swept Mady Villiers for four at the start of the ninth, she was a hit away from a half-century after just 24 balls, but was beaten in the flight by her 25th and stumped by Winfield-Hill.
“I was timing the ball well,” Mandhana told Sky Sports at the interval. “When you get a first-ball boundary, that gives you a lot of confidence. I was really disappointed to get out – I think it’s a crime to get out in the 40s after batting so well – and really disappointed that I couldn’t play at least until the 90th ball.”
Brave keep coming
Invincibles took regular wickets through the middle phase, with 17-year-old left-arm spinner Sophia Smale keeping a lid on the scoring, but Charlotte Edwards has made a point of building a side with a long batting line-up and they continued to attack throughout the innings: Mandhana aside, no batter reached even 25 but their intent dragged them up to a defendable total.
Freya Kemp and Georgia Adams’ partnership of 45 off 24 balls for the sixth wicket was particularly crucial, and highlighted the extent to which Brave’s lower-order firepower has emboldened their batters to attack: rather than a major setback, each dismissal resembles one batter handing the baton over to the next.
Oval’s overseas dilemma
Batty’s decision to leave out his captain, and the MVP across the tournament’s first season, was a gamble that backfired. “She led them to the trophy last year,” Lydia Greenway said on Sky. “From a coach’s point of view, if you feel like you need to make a big call like that, you have to go for it. The challenge they will have is if they lose today, how will they manage that?”
In her absence, Invincibles needed their overseas trio to step up and prove their worth; perhaps inevitably, they struggled to make any impact. Kapp and Ismail were uncharacteristically loose with the new ball and at the death, returning combined figures of 0 for 67 from 40 balls. With the bat, Bates hit 15 off 8 balls and Kapp crunched 19 off 9, but both fell without making a lasting impact.
With Alice Capsey sidelined due to the ankle injury she picked up fielding in Invincibles’ opening game, their domestic players were left with too much to do. Ryana Macdonald-Gay’s late hitting put a dent in Amanda-Jade Wellington’s figures but by then, tight spells from part-time offspinners Adams (2 for 16 from 20) and Danni Wyatt (2 for 16 from 10) had seen the asking rate spiral out of control.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98