Wellington takes Brave to top of points table; Graham, bowlers headline Rockets’ comprehensive win
Heather Graham’s late flourish and Katherine Brunt’s brilliant spell helped the Trent Rockets trump Welsh Fire by 11 runs on Sunday (August 1). Meanwhile, Clinical bowling performance from Amanda-Jade Wellington meant that Southern Brave moved to the top of the points table with their fourth consecutive victory in the tournament.
In the first game, Natalie Sciver won the toss and opted to bat. Sammy-Jo Johnson and Rachel Priest continued their form from the previous game, going after the Fire bowlers early. They added 37 runs in the power play, with Johnson being the aggressor in the partnership. The allrounder made 29 runs from 22 balls before getting out in a similar fashion as to Sophia Dunkley from the Fire’s previous match as the ball got deflected off Abtaha Maqsood and hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
Priest fell shortly after to Emily Arlott, leaving Sciver and Brunt to revive the innings. The skipper smashed Arlott for back-to-back boundaries – pull shot in front of square and an inside-out lofted cover drive. However, the partnership did not last long as Sciver got stumped off Kirstie Gordon for 27 runs from 24 balls.
Graham took over the mantle, hitting boundaries off Issy Wong and Georgia Elwiss. Despite losing wickets at the other end, she kept the innings going for the Rockets and took them past the 140-run mark. They finished with 145 for five in 100 balls. Graham scored an unbeaten 44 off just 21 balls.
Chasing close to seven runs per over, Shafali Verma and Evelyn Jones did not waste any time. The duo took the attack to the Rockets seamers, scoring 23 runs in the first couple of sets. Evelyn hit Johnson down the ground for a boundary, but the allrounder came back strongly, dismissing her for 17 runs from nine balls.
The ever-intriguing battle between Verma and Brunt continued with the 17-year-old pulling the veteran seamer behind square. In the next set, Verma backed away and hit Brunt over her head for a boundary. However, Brunt had the last laugh, deceiving Verma with a back-of-the-hand slower ball off the very next delivery. The in-form Amy Jones got out to her counterpart, leaving the Fire in jeopardy.
Erin Burns and Freya Davies did not last long, and the Rockets were struggling at 58 for five. When Elwiss got out, they needed 54 from 19 balls. Trying to rekindle some hope, Wong went after the Rockets bowlers, hitting consecutive sixes off Sciver. Once again, Brunt came to the rescue, taking a brilliant catch off her own bowling to dismiss Wong. She smashed 27 runs from 11 balls. The Fire eventually fell short by 11 runs.
Meanwhile, Anya Shrubsole chose to bowl in the second game, aiming to make the most of the overcast conditions. Wellington provided the first breakthrough with a rocket-arm direct hit at the non-striker’s end to get rid of Naomi Dattani.
Deandra Dottin and Tammy Beaumont struggled to keep up with the required run-rate going, both before and after a brief rain break. Eventually, pressure caught up to Dottin as she got out her national team skipper Stafanie Taylor for two runs from 13 balls. Wellington’s golden arm struck as the leg-spinning allrounder removed Heather Knight and Deepti Sharma off successive deliveries. The spirits were down to 40 for four.
Beaumont tried to rebuild the innings, but the Brave bowlers kept pegging away with wickets at the other end. She got out to Wellington for 34 from 45 balls. The Spirits were all out for 93 in 96 balls. Wellington finished with four for 14 in her 20 balls.
With less a run-a-ball required, Smriti Mandhana and Danielle Wyatt had a patient start to the chase. Sharma provided the Spirits with an early wicket as she trapped Mandhana on the pads. Wyatt, meanwhile, continued from where she left off in her previous game. She smashed back-to-back boundaries off Davies and scored 21 runs from 22 balls before getting out to Charlotte Dean.
Dunkley, along with Taylor, kept the chase going with singles and doubles, picking up the occasional boundaries. Sharma, who had given only two runs in her first ten deliveries, was brought in to break the partnership, and she delivered. Though Dunkley got out for 22 from 19 balls, Dean and Taylor saw the chase through with eight balls to spare. Sharma was the pick of the bowler for the Spirits with two wickets for ten runs.
Trent Rockets: 145/5 in 100 balls (Heather Graham 44*, Kirstie Gordon 1/20) beat Welsh Fire: 134/9 in 100 balls (Issy Wong 27, Sammy-Jo Johnson 3/28) by 11 runs.
London Spirit: 93 all out in 96 balls (Tammy Beaumont 34, Amanda-Jade Wellington 4/14) lost to Southern Brave: 97/3 in 92 balls (Stafanie Taylor 29*, Deepti Sharma 2/10) by 7 wickets.