Hayley Matthews powers Fire to victory despite Mandhana, Wyatt fifties

Smriti Mandhana's unbeaten 70 and Danni Wyatt's 67 went in vain as Hayley Matthews defended eight runs in the final set. Matthews contributed 65 runs with the bat to propel Fire to the second-highest total in The Hundred.

Nitin Singh
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Hayley Matthews

Hayley Matthews was adjudged the POTM for her all-round performance © Getty Images

Welsh Fire handed Southern Brave their first-ever home defeat in The Hundred after clinching a last-ball thriller at the Ageas Bowl on Friday (August 4). Welsh Fire's Hayley Matthews took center stage, hitting a swashbuckling knock of 65 runs, and gave away only four runs in the match's final set to register a dramatic four-run victory. Southern Brave's opening duo, Smriti Mandhana and Danni Wyatt scored electric half-centuries but failed to chase down the record target.

Asked to bat first, Matthews and Tammy Beaumont had their foot on the gas right from the start, with Matthews producing a majestic cover drive off the first Anya Shrubsole ball she faced. Matthews continued with a series of drives and backfoot punches to keep the boundary count ticking.

Beaumont joined in on the act, taking on Chloe Tryon in the last set of the power play. Beaumont smashed two boundaries and a six in the set, all in the mid-on region.

Matthews kept piercing through Brave’s field and brought up her third fifty in The Hundred off just 26 balls with a boundary towards the short third. However, the opening carnage was brought to a stop in the same set. Rhianna Southby produced an excellent bit of wicketkeeping to stump out Beaumont after she slogged Georgia Adams and missed.

Laura Harris, promoted up the order, wasted no time, and took the attack to Maitlan Brown. Brown’s set comprised a no-ball, boundary, a massive six over long-on and a 71m maximum. Another inspired piece of fielding from Brave, this time Maia Bouchier, who produced a direct hit straight from long-on and sent Laura Harris walking.

An unfazed Matthews kept finding the boundary for fun before handing a dolly to Tryon in her set. A stunning knock was brought to an anti-climatic end with a soft dismissal. Brave pulled back the momentum after the dismissal as the boundaries dried up and runs were hard to come by for Sarah Bryce and Georgia Elwiss.

Elwiss took on the role of the aggressor in the penultimate set, hitting a glorious boundary towards mid-off. She continued in the final set against Shrubsole, slapping two boundaries and picking up a three from the final delivery. Elwiss’ late onslaught took Welsh Fire’s total to 165, their highest-ever total and The Hundred’s second-highest score.

Southern Brave faced an uphill task having to replicate their record-breaking innings from two years ago to win the match against the same opposition in the same stadium when Brave amassed 166, the highest score of The Hundred.

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Chasing the record total, Brave seemed in a spot of bother after garnering only 24 runs from 20 balls before Wyatt decided to accelerate. Matthews was on the receiving end this time as Wyatt welcomed her set with a boundary, a six and another boundary behind square.

Brave were well on course to pull off the chase with Wyatt on the steering wheel. Wyatt brought up her fifty off just 31 balls with a humongous six. Alex Griffiths got the all-important breakthrough after Wyatt edged the ball and it was Matthews who lapped it up at long-on, ending the 96-run opening stand.

Mandhana took charge of the chase and upped the ante hitting boundaries all over the ground. She brought up her second consecutive fifty of The Hundred 2023 in style as she got down on her knee and dragged the ball towards the rope.

The game saw yet another sublime piece of wicketkeeping as Bryce’s quick hands stumped off Bouchier. Tryon walked in to partner Mandhana but struggled to time the ball while Mandhana's time was limited at the non-striker’s end.

Matthews was given the responsibility of the final set and making her incredible knock with the bat count. Nine needed off the last five, Tryon danced down the track but missed the delivery, and Bryce finished the job. Joined by Freya Kemp in the middle, Mandhana did not see much of the strike again in the ultimate set.

Mandhana’s unbeaten knock of 70 was not enough to take Brave over the line. Matthews stitched together an incredible final set to hand Welsh Fire a historic victory in their first match of the campaign after the side finished right at the bottom of the table in The Hundred 2022.

Brief scores: Welsh Fire 165/3 in 100 balls (Hayley Matthews 65, Georgia Elwiss 28; Chloe Tryon 1/28) beat Southern Brave 161/4 in 100 balls (Smriti Mandhana 70*, Danni Wyatt 67; Alex Griffiths 2/20) by 4 runs POTM: Hayley Matthews