Manchester Originals captain Kate Cross declared the opening match of The Hundred an “amazing night for women’s cricket” after the tournament got off on a memorable note for all the right reasons at the Kia Oval.
Win with two balls-
England international Cross ended up on the losing team after a half-century by opposite number Dane van Niekerk guided Oval Invincibles to a thrilling five-wicket victory after they chased down 136 to win with two balls to spare.
Three years after the original idea for this 100-ball tournament was unveiled. It finally got underway and even though the first ball was a leg-side wide. The contest turned into a run-fest much to the delight of the 7,395 spectators in attendance.
When England and Wales Cricket Board put out plans for this unique concept in 2018, equality was a key selling point, and the decision to put a women’s match on first paid off handsomely.
“I don’t think I can come off a cricket pitch and be more pleased with a loss,” Cross admitted.
When Manchester Originals posted 135 for six from their 100 balls, largely thanks to 42 from South African opener Lizelle Lee. It appeared the visitors would claim a first win of the new competition.
It produced another thunderous reaction from a youthful crowd, who had become encapsulated by the chase in the second half of the hosts’ innings
The odds were stacked even more against Invincibles when Cross picked up two wickets in consecutive balls. But home skipper Van Niekerk put on 73 for the fifth wicket with wife Marizanne Kapp before a thick outside edge by the former clinched victory for the Oval-based team.
England bowler Cross admitted:
“I said to the girls before the biggest thing was to enjoy everything. Enjoy the occasion and the crowd because we have made history.
“Regardless of the result, we are history-makers so to enjoy it as much as we did. I think that is why we feel like we haven’t lost the game. We were the guinea pigs and I am so glad for the tournament it comes off. We got the night we wanted.
“I felt the atmosphere even when I was in the ring, I couldn’t speak to anyone because it was so loud. I did get to go down to the boundary for a couple of balls, so that was nice, but they went over my head, so it feels like a win, I don’t feel like we lost that game of cricket, it is a strange feeling.”
Even though it was a new team, the Oval crowd immediately got behind Invincibles who made a good start. Kapp picked up the first wicket of the inaugural tournament. As Emma Lamb was caught behind off the seventh legitimate ball of the match.
The Originals recovered afterward with Lee leading the charge. But it was Cross who claimed the honor of the first maximum of the competition as the visitors set 136 for victory.
Mignon du Preez- cleared the boundary ropes
At 58 for four at the halfway stage and with 78 runs required it looked unlikely. But when Kapp cleared the boundary ropes thanks to a helping hand from fellow South African Mignon du Preez. A momentum shift occurred which the fans responded to with the captain leading the team home with two balls left.
“It was electric and incredible, an experience to feel it and I think the crowd carried us at the back end,” Van Niekerk insisted after her 56 not out.
Ex-Surrey Stars ace Van Niekerk added: “I have played here before, but it was definitely the biggest crowd I have played in front of at the Oval and shows people are interested in the tournament.
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