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
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.
Farrant had Lee caught at cover for an anchoring 42 off 39 and removed Kaur shortly after, dinking to short fine leg, but her 29 off 16 balls had added impetus to the innings. Cross and Ecclestone traded sixes in the final set of 10, and while Farrant added a third by having Ecclestone stumped thanks to a canny offcutter, the Originals’ 135 looked like a competitive score.
Invincibles’ false start
Cross struck twice in two balls during her first set of five, having Alice Capsey caught behind while lap-sweeping and crashing one into the top of Grace Gibbs’ stumps. Fran Wilson calmly flicked her hat-trick ball down to fine leg for four, but fell shortly after as she chipped a catch to Kaur at mid-off to give Laura Jackson a wicket with her first ball.
Cross’ third wicket, Georgia Adams plinking a pull to short midwicket, left the Invincibles four down inside 32 balls and reeling, but van Niekerk cut and pulled hard against the spin, trying to marshal the strike in partnership with Kapp and getting a life on 30 when Kaur put her down at mid-off.
Van Niekerk back-foot punched Hartley for four more to take the equation to 16 off 10 balls before Ecclestone’s final set of five, and when Villiers slapped her second legal ball over long-on, the required rate was a run a ball. With six to win off the last over, Villiers backed away and squeezed Cross’ yorker away behind square on the off side, before van Niekerk’s thick outside edge sealed the deal with two balls to spare.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98