Southern Brave held their nerve to beat winless Birmingham Phoenix by three runs in a thrilling women’s Hundred clash at the Ageas Bowl.
Danni Wyatt and Smriti Mandhana set Brave on their way to a fifth victory from six fixtures with an 84-run opening stand, while Lauren Bell, Georgia Adams and Anya Shrubsole each took two wickets as the hosts defended 132 to move back to the top of the women’s table.
Indian opener Mandhana became the first woman to pass 600 runs in the tournament’s history with a stylish 39, which took her above Welsh Fire’s Tammy Beaumont at the top of this campaign’s run-scoring charts.
She and England batter Wyatt cruised to 36 without loss in a no thrills powerplay before going on to post their eighth 50-partnership together.
Wyatt struck six fours before she was bowled for a 33-ball 43 by an impeccable leg cutter from Emily Arlott, and Mandhana fell 11 deliveries later to the 70th ball when she was adjudged lbw to Arlott – although Replays suggested the decision should have been reviewed as it pitched outside leg stump.
Katie Levick had Adams stumped and Maia Bouchier swept on to her own stumps off Erin Burns’ off spin as Brave posted a slightly above par 132.
Sophie Devine was caught at midwicket off the third ball of Birmingham’s innings but Sterre Kalis and Eve Jones built a platform with a 40-run stand.
Southern Brave 132-4 off 100 balls: Danni Wyatt (43 off 33 balls); Smriti Mandhana (39 off 32 balls); Emily Arlott (2-22).
Birmingham Phoenix 129 off 100 balls: Amy Jones (33 off 23 balls); Georgia Adams (2-25); Lauren Bell (2-27); Anya Shrubsole (2-30).
They both fell within nine balls of each other as the spin duo of Kalea Moore and Adams pulled Brave back on top – Kalis lbw to Adams and Jones caught at midwicket.
Another stand, this time of 43 between Burns and Amy Jones, edged the visitors towards favourites. But Jones was run out by Bouchier’s strong arm to leave Phoenix needing 36 off 24 balls. Burns hit Adams for the first six of the day and then a four but was caught at long on.
Defending 15 off the last 10 deliveries, Bell built pressure with a pair of slower-ball dots before Abigail Freeborn mishit to mid-off, and Shrubsole had Tess Flintoff caught and bowled and Hannah Baker stumped to leave six needed off the last ball, from which Levick could not provide match-winning heroics.
Ahmed stars for Brave after England call-up
In the men’s game, Rehan Ahmed celebrated his England T20 call-up with a spellbinding 3-22 as the Brave claimed a four-wicket victory over Birmingham Phoenix.
The 19-year-old, who is the youngest male cricketer to play all three formats for England, bamboozled Phoenix through the middle sets, while the lightening quick Tymal Mills starred at the death with 3-20 to restrict the visitors to an under-par 119-8.
George Garton top scored with 28 as Southern Brave got ahead of the rate early and reached their target with six balls to spare. Brave climbed to second in the table to boost their chances of reaching the play-offs while Phoenix remain bottom with progression looking unlikely.
Phoenix skipper Moeen Ali elected to bat first and Will Smeed started fast, striking three boundaries off Garton and Craig Overton’s opening spell. England opener Ben Duckett soon joined the fun, striking boundaries with a cut, flick and a ramp.
Smeed crashed two glorious drives through the off side for four, and had a life when he was put down by Tim David in the deep, but his luck ran out when he was beaten by the extra pace of Mills and top edged a pull to Leus du Plooy to leave Phoenix 40-1 after the powerplay.
Birmingham Phoenix 119-6 off 100 balls: Tymal Mills (3-20); Rehan Ahmed (3-22).
Southern Brave 120-6 off 100 balls: Tanveer Sangha (2-23).
Brave captain James Vince turned to spin and was vindicated as Ahmed trapped Jamie Smith lbw before bowling Duckett around his legs with a disguised googly. Off-spinner Colin Ackermann picked up the prize scalp of Moeen too as both spinners dominated, bowling back-to-back 10-ball sets.
Ahmed picked up his third wicket after Dan Mousley overbalanced to a leg-side delivery and was smartly stumped by Devon Conway.
Liam Livingstone was dropped in the deep and threatened to make the Brave pay when he dispatched Ahmed and Mills for sixes, however he edged behind off the latter. Benny Howell then fell to a Chris Jordan slower ball and Chris Woakes holed out to long-off as Mills picked up his third wicket.
Brave’s Finn Allen set about making light work of the target, striking Woakes over extra-cover, launching fellow New Zealander Adam Milne for a six over long-on and hitting Woakes for consecutive boundaries over his head, but fell soon after when he could only glove an attempted ramp off Kane Richardson to Smith.
Vince worked a Richardson in-swinger behind square for four off his first delivery, before assertively pulling Woakes to the boundary. However, he was bowled after advancing down the pitch to a Moeen delivery that spun between bat and pad.
Conway was run out after a mix-up, but a quickfire partnership of 34 between Garton and Du Plooy put Brave firmly in control. Garton fell after looping a catch to point, David holed out to cow corner and Du Plooy was trapped lbw as Brave stumbled over the line for a vital victory.
The Hundred continues on Thursday when Trent Rockets welcome Manchester Originals to Trent Bridge live on Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Mix, with both matches being streamed on Sky Sports‘ digital platforms as well.
The women’s game is first up (2.30pm on air, 3pm start), with both teams aiming to revitalise their campaign after just one win apiece so far from their first five matches.
The men’s match (6pm on air, 6.30pm start) then sees the Rockets and the Originals aiming to steal a march on each other in pursuit of a place in the knock-out stage, with both level on five points after five games.
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