Oval Invincibles knocked out after failing to defend 134 at the Ageas Bowl
Southern Brave 135 for 4 (Davies 40*, de Grandhomme 40*) beat Oval Invincibles 134 for 7 (Blake 44*, Jacks 39, Lintott 3-14) by six wickets
Lintott pegged Invincibles back after a flying start – they were 46 for 0 after 16 balls – but Alex Blake’s 44 not out ensured they had something to bowl at. Brave lost three early wickets in the chase and struggled to score freely, but a calm, unbroken stand of 67 between Davies and de Grandhomme sealed the win, with Davies pulling Reece Topley for six to get them across the line with five balls to spare.
Brave started the season with consecutive defeats, replicating their head coach Mahela Jayawardene’s template from his time at Mumbai Indians, but have won all five of their completed games since then, four of them at home. They will play Trent Rockets in Friday’s eliminator if Birmingham Phoenix beat Northern Superchargers on Tuesday night; if Phoenix lose, Brave will go straight into Saturday’s final.
Jacks in a box
This was the eighth game that the Ageas Bowl’s central hybrid pitch had been used across the Hundred, and it had something in it for everyone. The artificial weave meant there was good bounce for the quicks but that some balls sat up nicely from a length, and the spinners found some grip throughout.
Garton, spinners take over
After a bright start, the lights went out on the Invincibles innings, as they suffered a slow-motion collapse of 53 for 7 in 58 balls through the middle phase. Garton struck twice in consecutive balls, having Jacks caught at deep midwicket then inducing a top edge from Colin Ingram thanks to extra bounce from back of a length, and then the spinners rolled into action.
First, Briggs cramped the strike-starved Jason Roy for room, bowling him via the pad with the first ball after the Powerplay, and then Lintott sprung into life by angling the ball across Invincibles’ batters. All three of his wickets came through googlies, as he bowled the reverse-sweeping Sam Billings, had Laurie Evans caught behind, and watched Tom Curran slap a cut straight to point.
Blake sprung into life at the death, further denting Mills’ figures and hitting Chris Jordan for two fours and a six in his 44 not out, but he admitted at the interval that Oval were under-par. “We just didn’t play smart cricket,” Billings said afterwards. “We batted very poorly. All we needed was to take it deep and all of a sudden you’re looking at 150-plus.”
Brave lost their two overseas openers inside 11 balls, with the in-form Quinton de Kock cutting Topley straight to point and Paul Stirling getting a leading edge after failing to read a Curran slower ball. They then lost their captain, James Vince, who was skewered by Davies and run-out scrambling to make his ground at the non-striker’s end.
Davies was under pressure – “it doesn’t help when you run the skipper out,” he joked afterwards – but ran brilliantly throughout his innings, facing only five dots and working the ball into gaps in recognition of the fact that Brave needed a significant partnership to get them across the line. He added 36 with the pinch-hitting Garton, who largely struggled for timing but smashed two sixes before he was run out looking for a third after Evans had slipped on the boundary rope but then recovered brilliantly.
That brought de Grandhomme to the crease, who had managed only 16 runs in the tournament to date in five innings. Like Davies, de Grandhomme ran well, pushing for twos and rotating the strike so that Invincibles could not line a bowler up. He pulled Topley and Shamsi for sixes, keeping the required rate in check.
Topley delivered a waist-high no-ball that went for two runs and then two overthrows with 15 needed off 10 which crushed any hope of an Invincibles fightback; instead, they are left to reflect on a season that included a perfect home record but disappointing performances in their three away defeats.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98