Invincibles overcome the chasing demons as Dane van Niekerk get them back to winning ways
Farrant and van Niekerk © Getty Images
Oval Invincibles overcame their demons of chasing against Birmingham Phoenix to register a massive eight-wicket win at Edgbaston on Wednesday (August 4). Natasha Farrant shined with a three-for and captain Dane van Niekerk steered her side to a victory with an unbeaten half-century.
Birmingham Phoenix won the toss and decided to bat on a used wicket in a must-win clash and made one change to their playing XI, as Phoebe Franklin replaced Emily Arlott. Opener Evelyn Jones a the guest for only two balls as she was caught at extra cover by an alert van Niekerk in Farrant’s first set of five. Promoted at three, the Australian recruit Katie Mack started well, but Eva Gray took a fantastic diving catch to give Farrant her second wicket inside the power play.
By the end of the power play, Phoenix were two for 28, but their woes went deep as some sharp work behind the stumps by Sarah Bryce off van Niekerk got rid of captain Amy Jones who managed to score only one run. Erin Burns then partnered with Shafali Verma to take Phoenix past fifty in 47 balls with back-to-back boundaries off Eva Gray. That joy didn’t last long, as Verma couldn’t pick a knuckleball and she was caught by Joanne Gardner leaving Phoenix with four for 51.
Burns (45) kept the scoreboard going without much help from the other end and finally holed out to Grace Gibbs at deep mid-wicket. Every batter that followed Burns got a start but could not convert that into meaningful innings for the home side. Phoenix lost nine wickets and managed to score 129 in 100 balls. Farrant shined for the Invincibles with three wickets and became the leading wicket-taker of the competition surpassing Sammy-Jo Johnson of Trent Rockets.
Given their performance in the past few matches while chasing the total, Oval Invincibles needed their most experienced batter at the top. When captain van Niekerk choose to open the batting with Georgia Adams, that is exactly what visitors got. Van Niekerk announced her arrival by hitting Kirstie Gordon three boundaries in her first set of five and never looked back from it.
Struggling Adams also found her form at the top as the opening pair amassed 34 runs from the power play. Adams drilled a tossed up delivery from Abtaha Maqsood over mid-off to bring the fifty partnership. Birmingham Phoenix bowlers and captain Jones were clueless against the pair and abysmal fielding efforts added to their misery. Adams and van Niekerk posted the partnership of 90 runs before the former was caught in the covers by Verma off Gordon.
That momentary hiccup in the chase could not stop van Niekerk as she brought her second half-century of the hundred in 40 balls. Fran Wilson could not add much to the scoreboard and became the second victim of Gordon. Alice Capsey, at four, survived an easy catch, an LBW appeal and whipped a full toss off Issy Wong to take Invincibles to a victory on the road with van Niekerk remaining unbeaten at the other end on 67.
Brief Score: Birmingham Phoenix 129/9 in 100 Balls (Erin Burns 45, Shafali Verma 16; Natasha Farrant 3/23) lost to Oval Invincibles 133/3 in 100 Balls (Dane van Niekerk 67*, Georgia Adams 42; Kirstie Gordon 2/20) by eight wickets