By Connor Steel
MANCHESTER ORIGINALS progressed to their second successive Hundred Grand Final on Saturday evening as they completed a historic run chase at the Kia Oval; beating Southern Brave by seven wickets in an exhibition of brute force batting and quality stroke-play in this Eliminator contest that yielded almost four hundred runs in total across the match.
Brave attempted to attack from the outset after being forced to bat; Finn Allen striking himself in the face whilst trying to play his trademark ramp shot in just the third ball. But the opener recovered impressively with the first boundary scored shortly afterwards as he joined Devon Conway in scoring thirty-seven unbeaten runs in the opening five-set powerplay.
Allen continued with this attacking momentum and hit two massive maximums to the shorter left boundary; reaching his own fifty in identical fashion as he skied Zaman Khan for a huge six. This made it 84-0 in fifty balls and Conway was an outstanding support to his partner as they passed one hundred runs without loss; leading the team to 122-0 in 64 balls.
The Originals were celebrating just one delivery later when they clinched their first and only wicket; Paul Walter forcing a tame drive from Allen (69) that was gathered by Jos Buttler behind the stumps. This brought captain James Vince to the crease and he made an immediate impact, hitting two finely struck boundaries to end a small period of low scoring.
Both batsmen helped to move their team past the 150 mark before Vince clattered one four and six to confirm a ‘record breaking’ score of 170 runs; surpassing their previous highest ever innings by a run. The great assault continued in the last twenty balls with Vince smashing a fourth maximum to reach his 50; Conway joining him as Brave ended on 196-1.
In their reply, Buttler and Phil Salt came out swinging as they scored twenty-eight runs off their opening ten balls; which included a lovely cover drive from the latter to set an early tone. The rapid attacking approach continued throughout the powerplay with Buttler slicing a four through the covers to reach 61-0, equalling their highest 5-set score of this season.
This batting pair moved to 82-0 from just thirty deliveries, before Brave introduced the off-spin of Mitchell Santer to their attack; which made the desired impact as Salt flicked his next drive into the diving Vince to depart for forty seven. More spin followed in the form of Rehan Ahmed to create some dot-ball pressure before Max Holden ramped him for a big 6.
The maximum spurred Buttler forward as he reached his half century from just twenty-six balls; which helped to reduce the Originals’ big target to eighty-two off 50 deliveries. Further runs including boundaries followed with Holden looking particularly dangerous but he became the second wicket to fall as he was deceived by a slow delivery from Tymal Mills.
Buttler was still there with the score on 146-2 as he scored a slower paced thirty-two runs off 22 balls alongside Laurie Evans; the England international star moving to eighty two runs before being caught off Chris Jordan. But Evans (22*) and Jamie Overton (7*) calmly sealed the win with four balls remaining whilst further exceeding the two hundred score.
The Hundred Competition will reach its climax later today (August 27) as Manchester Originals play Oval Invincibles at Lords from 6pm whilst the Southern Brave Women are due to play at 2:30pm at the same ground. Both the games are scheduled to be shown on live television including BBC Two and Sky Sports, including the build ups and presentations.
PICTURED BY ALAMY (2RM2RNW): Max Holden batting for the Originals in closing stages of this run fest at the Oval.