Brave win low scoring Ageas thrillers

By Connor Steel/Photograph from Hundred Media Team

SOUTHERN BRAVE returned to the Ageas Bowl with another double header on Saturday afternoon, with both the men’s and women’s sides beating Northern Superchargers in low scoring but thrilling encounters in the new Hundred Competition.

Starting earlier in a rain affected match, the women won by seven wickets on DLS method before the men’s side were victorious by five wickets with five balls left to spare; neither of the four teams scored more than 131 runs off their innings on a slow pitch in Southampton.

Women: Southern Brave (89-3) beat Northern Superchargers (76-3) by seven wickets (DLS)

Earlier rain meant a delayed start to the 3.30pm start, Superchargers started the better in the battle of the top two sides as they made a solid opening partnership of 33 between Lauren Winfield-Hill and Jemimah Rodrigues. But three wickets in 15 balls including both the openers and Bess Heath left the visitors on 41-3 off 35 balls; Lauren Bell got two dismissals and Tara Norris got one as Brave slowed the run-rate down to almost six per over.

However an unbroken partnership of thirty-five between Laura Wolvaardt (21*) and Alice Davidson-Richards (17*) pushed the Superchargers to 76-3 off 73 balls; with the run-rate not really improving with limited boundaries and good bowling from the Brave unit. Another quick but intense rain shower then forced the players off the pitch at 4.51pm, ending the Superchargers innings and setting Brave a total of 89 runs off 75 balls under the Duckworth Lewis System.

The response from Brave didn’t get off to the best start when Danni Wyatt was dismissed off the second ball of their innings by 18-year- old bowler Kalea Moore, with fellow opener Smriti Mandhana being run out soon afterwards to leave the home side on 5-2 off eight balls. A 21 partnership between Sophia Dunkley and Stafanie Taylor was soon ended as the latter was bowled by Moore to become the teenager’s second victim.

But the third wicket with the score on 26 off 22 balls only seemed to spark Dunkley into life as she calmly settled nerves backed up by her partner Maia Bounchier with Brave building towards their target. The home side eventually reached their 89 runs with 13 balls left to play; with Dunkley hitting exactly 50 runs including five fours and two sixes and scored the winning runs of the bowling of Linsey Smith. Credit should also go to her partner Bouchier; who scored 33 unbeaten in just 19 balls as Brave romped to the two points on offer despite the rain interruptions.

The result took Southern Brave to 10 points from their games with five wins from six matches, three points clear of Northern Superchargers at the top of the women’s competition table with two matches each to play before the finals at Lords on August 21.

Men: Southern Brave (131-5) beat Northern Superchargers (128-6) by five wickets

After winning the toss and choosing to bat in overcast but dry conditions, Northern Superchargers were dealt an immediate blow as they lost Adam Lyth of the very first ball. The attacking opener was bowled by George Garton, sparking joyous celebrations for Brave players and supporters who had braved earlier rain across Southampton.

But any hope that Brave were going to rout the opposition was dampened by a 47-run partnership between Chris Lynn and captain David Willey putting the visitors in a strong position as the natural light began to fade. But both batsmen fell in the space of 12 balls as England bowler Chris Jordan and Danny Briggs did the damage; with a fourth wicket coming as Jake Lintott dismissed Harry Brook for 18 runs to leave the visitors 69-4.

Another wicket fell when wicketkeeper John Simpson became the second victim of Briggs with the score on 76-5 after 64 balls to leave Brave on top, but a quickfire 38-run partnership between Dane Vilas (35*) and Ben Raine (18) before the latter was dismissed off the bowling of Tymal Mills off 88 balls with the score on 114-6. The following 12 balls brought only 14 runs due to some brilliant death bowling as Superchargers set a target of 129 to win for Brave.

The home side’s response got off to a quick and solid start with Paul Stirling hitting twenty runs in a 36-run opening partnership with Quinton De Kock before the Irish batsman was caught & bowled by Brydon Carse. Hampshire batsman James Vince was quickly dismissed by fellow England international star Adil Rashid for just eight runs to leave Brave on 53-2, before a 48-run partnership between De Kock and Alex Davis saw them hit the century mark with 30 balls to play.

However Brave lost three quick wickets for just eight runs, with Alex Davis stumped off the bowling of Rashid for 14. Adam Lyth then dismissed Ross Whitely and Colin de Grandhomme in quick succession to leave the home side wobbling on 109-5 but in overall control on balance; particularly with de Kock in full flow and looking decisive.

Backed up by Chris Jordan’s ten not out, the South African batsman managed to guide Brave over their victory target with five balls left to play, he hit 72 runs off just 45 balls in a player of the match performance. His nine fours and a six at a strike rate of 1.6 marked his underrated displays in the Hundred as Brave got their third win of the campaign alongside one weather related ‘non-result’ and now sit second in the league table with two games to play.

The Ageas Bowl will be the place to watch all four games over the next seven days as Brave play Welsh Fire on Wednesday, August 11 and Oval Invincibles on August 16. Again these will be double headers with the women’s games starting at 3.30pm and the men’s starting at 7pm, with the BBC showing the Brave against Welsh Fire (coverage starts at 6.30pm) on August 11. Both male and female sides will be hoping to reach the semi finals to be held in London on August 20; with home advantage, travel-free preparations and of course great consistent form going into two big matches.