Oval Invincibles took a big step to qualification for The Eliminator™ with an 8-wicket win over London Spirit in front of a raucous crowd of over 10,000 at The Oval.
Crucially, the 13-ball margin of victory also served to widen the gap in Net Run Rate between them and their closest challengers – Trent Rockets and Northern Superchargers.
In fact, the only way Invincibles can now fail to qualify for The Eliminator™ (it is not really trademarked… but it so ought to be!) is if they lose their final match and both Rockets and Superchargers win theirs, leaving all 3 tied on 9 points.
This would mean that both Superchargers and Rockets would have to overturn Invincibles’ current Net Run Rate advantage. This is certainly possible, but it would need the Invincibles to suffer something of the order of a 30-run defeat to the Brave, with Rockets and Superchargers winning their games (against Originals and Phoenix respectively) by similar margins.
Invincibles v Brave could make for a very interesting final on today’s showing. Brave have been enormous with the bat; but Invincibles won today’s match with a fantastic bowling performance.
Marizanne Kapp, who returned to the side today, is obviously not 100% fit – she looks to be coming in at half pace, and the only ball she bowled today where she shaped-up to come in hard was a total bluff as she bowled Chloe Tryon with a slower ball. But, save an early no ball likely caused by holding back in her run-up, she nonetheless bowled the best bag of 20 balls you’ll likely see in this competition, finishing with figures of 2-12.
Alice Capsey’s 2-15 would have been a Player of the Match (sorry… “Match Hero”) performance on any other day. The ball that bowled Deandra Dottin in particular was a beauty – straightening sharply to take out middle-and-off.
(The fact that neither Capsey nor Kapp were Match Hero – it was Georgia Adams – just goes to show that batters get all the glory and there is no justice for bowlers in this world!)
Spirit weren’t quite as bad as they had been against Brave at Lords earlier in the competition, when they were bowled out for 93, only avoiding total humiliation thanks to a Brave barrel-full of extras. But they were still quite bad. After a slow start, with just 12 runs coming off the first 20 balls, Heather Knight and Tammy Beaumont gave them a platform, taking them to 79 off 60 balls – on course for around 130; but the rest of the batting lineup totally let them down. (If Deepti Sharma wants to be considered as a genuine allrounder at this level in the shorter formats, which she obviously does, she has to do better than 11 off 14 balls.)
Spirit’s 103 was at least 25 under par, and left the Invincibles batters with a pretty easy job to do, to be honest. Of course, it was a job that still needed to be done, but Match Hero Adams, with support from Fran Wilson (who took a while to get going, but delivered in the end) and Kapp with the bat, pulled them home as only she can – mostly in the direction of cow corner!
I was a little disappointed to see Kapp come in ahead of Capsey, but she showed us how its done, and while I don’t always agree with the computer at the ICC that calculates their player rankings, there is a reason Kapp is up there with the likes of Nat Sciver and Ellyse Perry as one of the world’s best allrounders.
The Invincibles know they aren’t there yet – though they could be in The Eliminator™ as soon as Sunday evening if the Originals do them a favour by beating the Rockets. But they are looking increasingly like contenders who can help give this tournament the exciting finish it deserves.
There were some good performances on display but Spirit’s overall showing was too disappointing for this to be a really good match. Knight and Beaumont batted well, as we expect and usually see, but all the others were a bit of a letdown – no-one else scored a solitary measly boundary for Spirit except their England top-order pair. So Spirit will have to look at the overall makeup of their side and get in some more reliable overseas batters that can get runs with more regularity. Their late collapse and rather paltry total meant that they couldn’t put much pressure on the Invincibles in the chase, which was just a pleasant cruise.
Capsey was wonderful with the ball, and so was Kapp and Ismail. Invincibles might be a bit concerned with Mady Villiers’ form, although their domestic players like Grace Gibbs, Jo Gardner, Eva Gray et al, have really done well and helped their own individual prospects outside this. They’ve deserved to be in strong contention for the eliminator.