Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Hundred: Sophia Dunkley stars as Brave beat Superchargers in battle of top two

Brave were struggling at 5-2, and 26-3, in their chase of a revised 89 off 75 balls – after rain had prematurely ended Superchargers’ innings after 73 balls – but Dunkley demonstrated her power, class and perhaps most pertinently her temperament to produce a stunning match-winning knock.

She shared an unbroken 63 with Maia Bouchier, who made an unbeaten 19-ball 33, as the pair saw Brave home with 13 balls to spare.

Earlier, during a stop-start innings twice interrupted by rain, Superchargers made 76-3, with South Africa’s Laura Wolvaardt top scoring with 21.

Brave move to 10 points at the top of the table – and are all but mathematically assured of a place in the knockout stages – while Superchargers remain second on seven points.

Dunkley’s dream summer continues
This summer Dunkley has already become the first black woman to play Test cricket for England, and made her one-day international debut.

The Hundred probably hadn’t quite gone as the Londoner had hoped so far – she slapped her bat into the ground and threw it after getting out in Brave’s previous game – but she was the match-winner on Saturday.

She slapped her fifth ball straight down the ground for a massive six, before advancing down the track and playing an outrageous uppercut for six more two balls later.

The right-hander was twice dropped by Alice Davidson-Richards in her follow-through, before demonstrating her grace with a beautiful off-drive, and then her power with a flick through the leg-side that made the most incredible crunch off the bat.

With two group games remaining Brave are now favourites to top the eight-team table and automatically qualify for the 21 August final.

Bell continues to impress
Bell is considered a future England bowler, having been in and around Lisa Keightley’s squad and one of 24 players invited to return to training during the pandemic last summer.

Nicknamed The Shard because of her height, Bell has regularly taken wickets in domestic competitions and now has seven in The Hundred.

The criminology student didn’t have the best start on Saturday with her first ball being above waist height, and therefore a no-ball, and cut to the boundary, she had technically conceded six before bowling a legitimate ball.

Her comeback was magnificent. She had India’s Rodrigues caught at mid-on, before having Bess Heath pouched at fine leg.

Bell has bowled in the 25-ball powerplay and towards the end of the innings during The Hundred, but impressively six of her seven strikes have come in the middle – from ball 38 to ball 68 – and that is a skill and habit that will make Keightley and England skipper Heather Knight sit up and pay attention.

A major part of England men’s 50-over World Cup success in 2019 was the middle-over wickets of Liam Plunkett because of his variations and height, and in Bell England women may have found theirs before March’s World Cup in New Zealand.

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