Dane van Niekerk proves Invincible as the Hundred is launched with a thriller


Kate Cross stars with three wickets for Originals, but victory is sealed with two balls to spare

Oval Invincibles 139 for 5 (van Niekerk 56*, Kapp 38, Cross 3-28) beat Manchester Originals 135 for 6 (Lee 42, Farrant 3-25) by five wickets

A fluent, unbeaten half-century from captain Dane van Niekerk saw Oval Invincibles recover from 12 for 3 to chase down 136 with two balls to spare on the opening night of the Hundred as English cricket ushered in its new 100-ball competition.
The standalone women’s match launched the competition in front of a 7,395 crowd in at The Oval, with Kate Cross, Manchester Originals’ captain, admitting “we don’t know what a good score is so we thought we’d go out and give it a go” as she opted to bat first.
The Originals’ total of 135 for 6 was held together by Lizelle Lee’s anchoring innings of 42 off 39 balls, with middle-order cameos from Harmanpreet Kaur and captain Cross injecting some life into the innings and dragging them up towards a defendable score.
Cross struck three times in her first seven balls in the run chase, as the Invincibles slipped to 12 for 3 and then 36 for 4 as their hopes quickly faded. But van Niekerk added 73 with Marizanne Kapp to keep them in the game, profiting from two dropped catches and cashing in when the Originals’ spinners dropped short.
Kapp fell for 38 to a sharp leg-side stumping by Ellie Threlkeld – though subsequent replays suggested she had taken the ball in front of the stumps – with 27 needed from 17 balls, but Villiers’ straight six off Sophie Ecclestone kept the rate in check, and van Niekerk flashed an edge for four past Threlkeld with the scores tied to seal the win.

Opening salvo

Kapp took the new ball for the Invincibles and emulated Sussex’s James Kirtley by starting a new format of the game with a wide, spraying one down the leg side to her compatriot Lee. But after an ignominious start, Kapp found both rhythm and nip, seaming the ball to beat Lee’s outside edge twice in her first set of five balls.

That was enough for van Niekerk to decide to leave her on for a second set of five balls, and the move was vindicated almost immediately, as the in-form Emma Lamb nicked her second ball through to Sarah Bryce. Umpire Tim Robinson was the only person in the ground to miss the noise as the ball passed the bat, and his not-out decision was quickly overturned via the DRS.

But with the powerplay shortened to 25 balls, the Originals decided to keep attacking. Lee dispatched Tash Farrant for consecutive boundaries to get herself up and running, before crunching Shabnim Ismail for four through point, while Georgie Boyce lashes consecutive fours off Kapp as the Invincibles conceded 31 runs in the final 15 balls of fielding restrictions.

Kaur, blimey

The Invincibles opted to use their spinners – van Niekerk and Mady Villiers – in initial 10-ball bursts from each end, and after Villiers had Boyce caught at extra cover, van Niekerk opted to keep her on for a second consecutive set of 10 balls from the Pavilion End. It proved to be a mistake: having conceded 13 from her first 15, Villiers was taken for four fours in five balls as Kaur evoked the spirit of Derby 2017 and found full flow.

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