The first “London Derby” of The Hundred ended with a big win for the Oval Invincibles versus the London Spirit at Lords.
The scorecard will tell you the Invincibles won by 15 runs; but this flatters the Spirit, after Dani Gibson and Charlie Dean had some fun slogging 27 off the last 10 balls, with the game essentially already lost.
There were two factors in the Invincibles’ win. The first, of course, was “Match Hero” Alice Capsey, who hit 59 off 41 balls in an 80-run partnership with Dane van Niekerk. Having won the opening game for her side with a half-century of her own, DvN was happy to play second-fiddle this time around, not even scoring at a run-a-ball, but giving Capsey the support she needed to play the key innings for the Invincibles.
The ramp may be the shot from Capsey that catches the eye… and occasionally the wicket-keeper’s eye, as it did on Thursday when she ramped straight into Ellie Threkeld’s gloves behind the stumps… but she actually scored the bulk of her runs straight today, in the arc between midwicket and mid off, picking the “holes” in the field to go safely over the top of the ring. It’s exciting cricket to watch, though it is certainly not risk-free, and she was eventually caught with 12 balls still on the clock.
So it really helped that Mady Villiers (again) and Jo Gardner both chipped in at the end for the Invincibles too – they might have only hit 8 and 9 respectively, but crucially it was off 3 and 4 balls – Strike Rates of over 200 – exactly what’s needed at the death in this quickfire format.
Nonetheless, it felt like the Invincibles were perhaps slightly short on 132-7, and they were going to have to bowl well to get the win. Which brings us around to the second factor, which was some quality work with the ball. Shabnim Ismail and Tash Farrant both opened the bowling with 10 balls straight apiece, and they nullified the Spirit’s opening batters in the powerplay. Naomi Dattani, who can be such a destructive player when she finds the middle of the bat, just couldn’t make it happen today, and finished with 8 off 14 balls. Even Deandra Dottin couldn’t make the impact she’d have wanted, also hitting at under 100… albeit only just with 14 off 15. And it was downhill from there really for the Spirit.
Heather Knight is usually the player to rely on in a chase, and she did her job today with 40 off 29, but she didn’t get the support she needed, as the Invincibles bowlers kept turning up the pressure. Chloe Tryon, having bowled very well earlier in the day, couldn’t get bat on ball today – when she was eventually dismissed for 9 off 16, it felt like a mercy-killing. Even more so than in T20, you can’t afford to take your time in this format – you really need to be going at a Strike Rate of 100 from the off and accelerating from there – there is little leeway to go at a Strike Rate of 50-something and hope you can make it up later if you stay in because even if you do accelerate later, you’ve already lost too many balls.
So it is the Invincibles that make the early running in the tournament, with 2 wins from 2. It is very early days of course, but it is also a very short tournament – games are coming at a million miles an hour, and momentum will be key. Right now, the momentum is with the Invincibles.