Magnificent Mandhana leads Brave to an easy win against Fire

Magnificent Mandhana leads Brave to an easy win against Fire

Smriti Mandhana © Getty Images

An elegant display of strokeplay from Smriti Mandhana, who smashed an unbeaten 39-ball 61, and an allround performance from Amanda-Jade Wellington helped Southern Brave beat Welsh Fire by eight wickets at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff on Tuesday (July 27).

Chasing 111 to win, Danielle Wyatt went after the Brave bowlers from ball one. She smashed Bryony Smith over cover and came down the track to hit one through mid-off for another boundary. In the next set, she slapped Piepa Cleary through the cover region, but Cleary had the last laugh courtesy a brilliant catch down the leg-side from Sarah Taylor.

Mandhana, who did not have a great outing in their first game, lofted Smith over long-on for the first six of the match. In the next set, she punched Cleary through the covers off the back foot, piercing the gap between cover and point fielders. When Georgia Hennessy came on, the southpaw flicked her over short fine-leg for a boundary.

Meanwhile, Sophia Dunkley hit a couple of boundaries off Cleary to give Mandhana good company in the middle. Together, they added 32 runs from 44 balls before Dunkley got out to Nicole Harvey for a run-a-ball 16.

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Mandhana kept the innings going for the Brave, picking up boundaries with her impeccable timing. She lofted Harvey down the ground - straight as an arrow - for a six and followed it up with a sweep between fine-leg and square-leg. She brought up her first fifty in the format off 35 balls. She took the team across the line with back-to-back boundaries - inside-out shot over extra-cover and a tonk down the ground as Brave romped home by eight wickets with 16 balls to spare.

After being put in to bat, Fire got off to the worst possible start, losing Smith early to a direct hit from Wellington at the non-striker's end. When the leg-spinner came on to bowl after the power play, she dismissed Alice Macleod on her very first delivery. After 26 balls, the Fire were stuttering at 26 for two.

Meanwhile, Hayley Matthews looked in sublime form at the other end. The West Indies allrounder walked down the ground and thrashed Anya Shrubsole through mid-off. When her national team skipper, Stafanie Taylor, came into the attack, Matthews flicked her through mid-wicket for a boundary and lofted her just over the mid-off fielder for another in the same set.

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It only got better as Matthews rocked onto her back foot and thumped Wellington over cover. She followed it up with a powerful drive through the covers off the very next delivery. Thirteen balls later, Matthews reprised a similar extra-cover loft, this time with the field spread, through wide off long-off. She had cruised to 32 runs from 18 balls, taking the game away from the Brave.

However, Lauren Bell struck twice - taking the outside edge of Matthews straight to Wellington at short third-man and trapping Sarah in front of the stumps - in consecutive deliveries. With Sophie Luff getting out to Charlotte Taylor shortly after, the Fire slumped to 66 for five at the halfway mark.

Charlotte and Fi Morris kept it tight with the ball, not giving away any easy runs. With the pressure building, Georgia Redmayne got run-out, thanks to a brilliant throw from Wyatt. Hennessy played a fighting knock, scoring an unbeaten 23, and took the team past the 100-run mark. Fire finished with 110 for seven in 100 balls. For Brave, Wellington - two wickets, a catch and a run-out - was the star performer in the field.

Brief Scores: Welsh Fire 110/7 in 100 balls. (Hayley Matthews 33; Amanda-Jade Wellington 2/19) lost to Southern Brave 112/2 in 84 balls (Smriti Mandhana 61*; Nicole Harvey 1/23 ) by eight wickets. POTM: Smriti Mandhana

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