Southern Brave 142 for 4 (Davies 51*) beat Trent Rockets 138 for 6 (Malan 59, Fuller 2-18) by six wickets
At the halfway point, Rockets’ total of 138 for 6 was believed to be slightly under par, with allrounder Samit Patel wary in his optimism that it was defendable, even if he did speak with the knowing look of a player who had seen these types of wickets before and knew that a good start could see the game could turn quickly.
And a good start is exactly what Rockets got, as their seamers combined to restrict Brave to just 15 for 2 off the powerplay – both Paul Stirling and James Vince bowled for ducks.
As Brave’s chase went on, Malan’s earlier effort grew in stature, as only Quinton de Kock for Brave was able to find the boundary in the first 65 balls of the chase.
With 66 off 30 required for victory, Rockets looked to be heading for a victory that would have secured them a slot in the top three and a place in the eliminator at the very least.
But three consecutive sets of five then went for double figures, as Rockets’ afterburners ran out, Brave aided by a series of wides and no-balls as the bowlers struggled with a wet ball. The result was 66 off 30 became 23 off 15 as Brave stole victory in the blink of an eye.
Malan furthers his case
Malan became the first person in the competition to reach 300 runs as he scored his third half-century. The left-hander is the leading run-scorer in the Hundred this season, and a bonus for England ahead of the T20 World Cup – particularly with Jason Roy so out of form.
Malan hit the ground running in his innings and appeared to be the only Rockets batter to gain a grasp of the pace of the pitch. After 50 balls of the innings, Malan was on 38 off 26 whilst his team-mates were 21 off 24.
The innings wasn’t chanceless with Malan gaining a life on 37 when he skied a Sonny Baker delivery to point where Michael Hogan put down a relatively simple chance. Despite Baker being 22 years junior to Hogan, he still managed to master the disappointed fatherly stare.
Seaming and swinging
That Rockets were in a position to let victory slip from their hands was the result of their own fantastic seam bowling at the start of Brave’s innings.
Spin was expected to lead proceedings with the wicket sticking and pace-off proving hard to time. But Luke Wood, Daniel Sams and Sam Cook were able to exploit the conditions superbly as Brave managed just 15 runs from the first 25 balls.
Wood’s impressive tournament continued as he bowled Vince via an inside edge for a golden duck, whilst Cook used his slower ball expertly to remove Stirling.
Such was the dominance of seam that allrounder and captain Lewis Gregory, who is yet to bowl his full allocation in a match this season, brought himself on as a fourth seamer before turning to either of his experienced spinners in Tabraiz Shamsi and Samit Patel. Gregory’s 15 balls would go for just 14 runs as Rockets’ eased themselves seemingly into an unassailable position.
Davies and Whiteley graft, David ices chase
Brave struggled to 52 for 2 at halfway and looked dead and buried when 71 were needed off the final 35 balls. Davies had just struck his first boundary, from his 30th ball faced, and Whiteley was new to the crease with six off seven.
Rockets’ position seemed only to be getting stronger, but the turning point came when, with 55 required off 25 balls, Sams’ bowled an eight-ball set that went for 19 runs and included a wide and two no-balls (one of which was for a fielding infringement). Shamsi’s following set went for 13 as a game that had been all but over for Brave became theirs to lose.
Whiteley departed for a vital 30 off 21 balls with 16 needed off 11, but any doubts over the result of the match were put to bed when Tim David struck consecutive sixes to send a raucous Southern Brave crowd home happy.
Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby