Words by Alex Smith, ECB Reporters Network
Lauren Bell picked up the best figures so far in this season’s Hundred as Southern Brave trounced Trent Rockets to book their place in the knockouts.
England fast bowler Bell celebrated four for 10 to move to nine wickets in the tournament, two behind team-mate Amanda-Jade Wellington, who claimed three for 18.
Rockets’ 88 for eight was never competitive and was proved so as Smriti Mandhana and Danni Wyatt boshed 57 off 31 balls and 36 off 25 respectively to knock off the modest total in 56 balls to win by ten wickets.
Brave maintain their perfect record and will head straight to the final if they beat Northern Superchargers or if Oval Invincibles and Birmingham Phoenix slip up in their final two fixtures. Rockets need one of Invincibles and Phoenix to lose both their remaining games to progress.
Rockets were put in and other than an exciting cameo from Marie Kelly massively struggled with conditions, whether it was the swing of Bell or the spin of Wellington.
Bryony Smith became the first woman to be dismissed in the first five-ball set of an innings in this year’s edition when she swung a short Bell delivery to Danni Wyatt at deep midwicket.
The only time Rockets looked on top was when Kelly thumped Anya Shrubsole through the covers and then for a six, tipped over the boundary by a full-stretch Wyatt.
Kelly slowed and tried to chip over the in-field, only to give Bell her second by finding cover, and Elyse Villani looked set on 25 before slicing Wellington to extra cover.
Rockets only scored a single boundary in the second half of their innings, a six from Mignon du Preez, as Brave turned the screw in time with the drizzle dissipating.
The need to catch up on runs saw five wickets fall in the last 21 balls, with only nine runs coming. In fact, they only managed eight boundaries in total to underline their lowest boundary percentage in the tournament.
Nat Sciver was put out her misery after a hellish 19 from 30 balls when she was stumped off Wellington, who also found rival Australian leg-spinner Alana King gloving to slip while attempting to reverse before du Preez was caught slog-sweeping Georgia Adams.
Bell finished things up with an exemplary final five balls, with Katherine Brunt and Sarah Glenn both caught at point to the final two deliveries of the 100.
Mandhana slapped the first ball of the chase to the point boundary and didn’t look back. A hat trick of fours in a row off Sciver made things even easier.
Her opening partner Wyatt got slightly lucky an edge went between keeper and slip off King but that only emboldened her and five boundaries in seven balls later and she had overtaken the Indian.
But Mandhana re-took her advantage, slogged King back over her head, and celebrated a 30-ball fifty before winning the game with another maximum.
The pair blitzed 16 fours and two sixes to give a set of unflattering bowling figures The win with 44 balls remaining was the most unused balls in a chase across both years of the women’s Hundred.
Trent Rockets head coach Salliann Briggs:
We were outplayed unfortunately. We got off to a good start with the bat but just didn’t kick on and build momentum.
We didn’t put their bowlers under enough pressure and when we lost wickets we gave our lower order too much to do.
We probably need to be a bit braver with our batting. The feedback on the pitch was that it was playing quite well. You can’t let bowlers get four for 10 or go at less than a run a ball. It’s not good enough in this competition.
We’ve got to work out how we can access the boundaries more. We were probably searching for wickets with our bowling, but it’s very hard to defend 88.
Southern Brave bowler Lauren Bell
That was amazing. It was a proper win. The bowlers did their job and Smriti and Danni went out there and knocked it off with no wickets down. They complement each other so well.
It was a great team performance. The conditions helped the bowlers and I really wanted to bowl well from the start. We’ve got a really good bowling attack.
We want to get straight to the final. We don’t want to play the Eliminator. Going unbeaten in the group stage will give us great momentum, so that’s the plan.
We chatted before about how it was a must-win game for the Rockets, but we put all that to bed.