Smriti Mandhana, Mary Taylor headline The Hundred 2023 opener

Smriti Mandhana added 65 runs for the opening wicket with Danielle Wyatt and then put on 63 runs with Maia Bouchier to propel Brave to a huge score

Shajin Mohanan S
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Smriti Mandhana

Smriti Mandhana in action © Getty Images

Two-time runners-up Southern Brave started the season in style as they beat Trent Rockets in the opening match of The Hundred 2023 in a repeat of the last edition's Eliminator on Tuesday (August 1). Smriti Mandhana was the star act with a player of the match performance while young pacer Mary Taylor impressed on debut. 

Mandhana mayhem

Having had a lean Women's Premier League (WPL) with the Royal Challengers Bangalore and then an indifferent tour of Bangladesh, Mandhana got going in the fourth set bowled by Naomi Dattani. After edging the left-arm pacer for a four, the southpaw swiveled to pull her for another boundary in front of mid-wicket in the next ball.

In the final set of the power play, Mandhana launched Katherine Sciver-Brunt over long-on for a six to the shorter side of Trent Bridge. Even though, Wyatt fell just as she was starting to get going, the India vice-captain took on Bryony Smith straight over her head for another maximum.

Mandhana brought up her fifty from just 32 balls as she hit Kirstie Gordon through mid-wicket for her sixth boundary. By the time she fell to Smith, Mandhana had made sure that Brave will have a competitive total on board on that good batting surface.

Impressive Bouchier and Tryon - The finisher

Maia Bouchier has been scoring runs at will for Southern Vipers and England A during the summer at the top of the order. Having watched The Ashes from the sidelines, Bouchier made full use of the opportunity to bat at three with Sophia Dunkley moving to Welsh Fire.

Walking in at the fall of Wyatt's wicket, Bouchier got going immediately and provided immense support for a fluent Mandhana. She slinked down the track to hit Smith through cover for her first four and then lifted King through the off-side for another boundary.

Bouchier then slog swept Smith over square-leg for a maximum and the hit two more fours of Dattani before falling to King.

Chloe Tryon, playing her first game for Brave, came in when both the set batters fell in quick succession and made sure that their innings didn't taper off. She hit Katherine for a huge six and smashed two more boundaries on her way to a 10-ball 23 as Brave finished on 157 for 6 from their 100 balls.

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Dashing debut for Mary TaylorTaylor came into the game possibly because of England management's decision to rest Brave's strike bowler Lauren Bell as part of the workload management. The young pacer showed no signs of nerves on her first outing in The Hundred.

Bowling the fourth set after ten consecutive tight deliveries from skipper Anya Shrubsole, Taylor struck with her second ball to dismiss Dattani and then picked up big-hitting Lizelle Lee just outside the power play just when she started to get going. 

publive-imageTaylor's 2 for 1 from her first two sets effectively put the game beyond Rockets as they hardly managed to score any runs before the arrival of Natalie Sciver-Brunt and Harmanpreet Kaur. Although she was hit for a couple of boundaries by Harmanpreet, the 18-year-old kept her composure and came back at the death to bowl to one more good set with good control over her yorkers and slower balls.

Nat - The lone warrior

Walking in at 21 for 3, Natalie struggled to get going early on even as Harmanpreet tried to play a few shots and by the time her Mumbai Indians skipper fell, Rockets were clearly up against it with them still needing 92 runs from the last 41 balls.

However, in a brief passage of play where she took on the Brave bowlers, she did manage to give the visitors some scare. Natalie first swept Maitlan Brown for a four and then followed it up with two more in the same set before launching the uncapped Australian pacer over square-leg for a maximum.

Shrusole brought herself back into the attack and pulled off a straight forward return catch as the Rockets' captain walked back on 49 off 31 balls. And with that all the hope of an unlikely win for the home side also went.

For Brave, Taylor picked up three wickets for just 18 runs from her complete sets while Georgia Adams chipped in with two wickets.

Brief scores: Southern Brave 157/6 in 100 balls (Smriti Mandhana 55, Maia Bouchier 31; Bryony Smith 2/34) beat Trent Rockets 130/7 in 100 balls (Natalie Sciver-Brunt 49; Mary Taylor 3/18, Georgia Adams 2/25) by 27 runs POTM: Smriti Mandhana