|Manchester Originals 135-6 (100 balls): Lee 42 (39), Farrant 3-25|
|Oval undefeated 139-5 (98 balls): Van Niekerk 56 *, cross 3-28|
|The Invincibles won with five goalkeepers along with the remaining two balls|
One hundred in 100 words
The Oval undefeated drew an exciting victory over the Manchester Originals when the women’s hundred began their strike at The Oval.
Chasing 136, the Invincibles were 36-4 before South African pair Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp teamed up 73rd together.
Kapp stepped on Ellie Threkeld brilliantly for 38, but captain Van Niekerk didn’t hit 56 to lead her team home.
She hit Kate Cross four times to seal the win with the remaining two balls, resulting in a wild celebration by a youthful London audience – believed to be a record in a homegrown women’s professional match.
The open thriller tournament I dreamed of
Could the hundreds discussed have had a better introductory evening? Almost certainly not.
About 7,400 people attended, a lot of those little kids and families, and when the home team secured the win, people danced in the aisles.
The night started with dramatic fireworks, they had DJs and musical performances, but in the end everyone in The Oval was preoccupied with cricket – all live on BBC Two.
Van Niekerk, who twice turned out crucially, played brilliantly and showed all her experience built in an international career of 186 games.
The undefeated needed 16 of the last 10 balls, and Mady Villiers hit her English teammate Sophie Ecclestone for six years.
At the start of the last set of five balls, Kate Cross hit for four, before Van Niekerk secured the win with a goalkeeper’s wide edge.
Even defeated, Alex Hartley of Manchester was smiling, given the opportunity.
“I’ve never been more proud of a women’s cricket match,” she said, summing up the night perfectly.
“What a night,” the Captain of the Originals Cross added. “I don’t think we can be too discouraged coming off the field in such an atmosphere. We’re obviously disappointed we didn’t cross the border, but what a night!”
The same teams open the men’s competition on Thursday, also at The Oval.
The drops cost Manchester a win
In fact, it was supposed to be Manchester who recorded their first win in the latest cricket format.
Opener Lizelle Lee first hit 42, and Cross knocked out the Invincibles ’top three – Georgia Adams, Alice Capsey and Grace Gibbs – with a fine introductory answer spell.
The catch that cost the Originals was discarded.
Harmanpreet Kaur, who previously had the classic 29, missed a direct chance to fire Van Niekerk by 28 in the middle of the season, and Kappa knocked down the 22nd player by her South African teammate Mignon du Preez – the ball also goes for six, adding to Manchester’s pain.
With 25 of 15 balls needed, Hartley still had time to knock down Van Niekerk, now at 44, once again. She spilled the wrongly hit swing as she swung near the border from the side of her leg.