Dattani, Sharma shine as London Spirit start their Hundred campaign with a thrilling victory

Deepti Sharma, Naomi Dattani © Getty Images

After Naomi Dattani and Heather Knight set up the game at the top, the London Spirit lower-order held their nerve to complete a three-wicket win against Birmingham Phoenix in a thriller. Deepti Sharma stole the headlines with an allround performance of  24-ball 28 while chasing and a 1/26 with the ball earlier.

Chasing 129 runs in 100 balls, Naomi Dattani opened the batting with Deandra Dottin in the absence of Tammy Beaumont. Dottin smashed Emily Arlott over mid-off in the last ball of the first set and followed it up with a similar shot when Kirstie Gordon came on to bowl. The Spirit’s innings was up and running, but Issy Wong trapped the West Indies allrounder on the pads for a run-a-ball nine.

Though Dattani sliced Wong wide off third-man, the Phoenix kept the run rate under control, with Spirit going at 23 for one after 20 balls. The left-hander, however, took the game away in the next set. She smashed three fours and a six off Arlott, taking the team to 41 for one after 25 balls. First four through mid-on, next one through mid-off, third one wide of mid-off, the final delivery hit over the square-leg fence.

Brought in to break the partnership, Erin Burns got rid of the dangerous Dattani as Shafali Verma took a sharp catch at mid-on. Joined by Sharma, Heather Knight tried to build a partnership with the Indian allrounder. They ensured that the required run rate did not get out of control with singles, doubles and occasional boundaries.

Together, they added 30 runs from 25 balls before Gordon dismissed the Spirit captain Knight for 21 runs from 17 balls. Sharma flicked Wong to the square-leg boundary and followed it with another through fine-leg. With Chloe Tryon, she reduced the equation to 21 runs from 23 balls. Then Emily Arlott happened.

Having bowled Tryon earlier in the set on a no-ball, Arlott got the better off the South African star as Tryon mishit one straight to mid-off. She followed it up a slower-ball yorker, cleaning up Susie Rowe for nought in two balls.

Burns complimented Arlott with the wicket of Sharma in the first ball off the next delivery. The left-hander pulled the off-spinner straight into the hands of Katie Mack at deep midwicket. The Spirit lost three wickets in a span of five balls without adding a run to their scorecard.

With 16 required from 15 balls, Amara Carr scooped Wong over the wicketkeeper’s head for a boundary. Carr and Charlotte Dean nudged the ball around for quick singles without taking any undue risk. As the over-rate was slow, going past the cut-off time, the Phoenix had to bring in a fielder from the outfield. Despite Dean’s run out, the Spirit eventually chased the target with four balls to spare.

Earlier, opting to bowl first, Spirit got off to a decent start with Sharma and Freya Davies not conceding any boundary in the first two sets. Shafali Verma and Katie Mack added 13 runs in the first 12 balls before the former blasted back-to-back boundaries off Dattani. She thumped one over the bowler’s head down the ground and followed it up with a whip between long mid-on and midwicket.

However, Dottin quickly brought Phoenix back in the game as the allrounder took a return catch to dismiss Mack for seven runs from eight balls. Evelyn joined Verma, but the duo was not able to get those crucial boundaries in the powerplay. With the pressure building, Verma succumbed to a back-of-the-hand slower delivery from Davies as the teenager was bowled for a run-a-ball 13.

Arlott, too, did not last long, hitting one straight to Dottin at deep midwicket off Knight. Amy Jones walked in to bat number five, with Phoenix struggling at 37 for three. The skipper got the innings going right from her first ball. She smashed Knight through extra cover and rocked back to pull the allrounder to the fine-leg boundary.

Meanwhile, Evelyn was struggling at 12 runs from 18 balls. In the very next set, she opened up clobbering a length-ball off Dottin wide off long-on. In the same set, she hit one through the covers to regain some momentum in her innings. When Danielle Gibson came into the attack for her second spell, Evelyn hit consecutive boundaries off her – one down the ground and the other over extra-cover.

Amy, at the other end, was at her best, reverse-sweeping Dean behind the wicket for a boundary. She picked up a slower ball from Dottin, punching it through cover-point. When the allrounder compensated with a full-length delivery, Amy square drove her through gully for four.

They added 64 runs from 40 balls together before Amy got out to Dean for 33 runs from 17 balls. Although Evelyn kept the scoreboard going, hitting back-to-back boundaries off Davies, but she fell three short of her half-century. Some late hitting from Elwiss and Wong helped Phoenix finish with 128 for six after 100 balls. Knight rotated her bowlers throughout the innings, ensuring no one bowled ten balls at a stretch. Dottin was the pick of the bowler, taking two for 28 in her 20 balls.

Brief Scores:

Birmingham Phoenix: 128/6 in 100 balls (Evelyn Jones 47, Deandra Dottin 2/28) lost to London Spirit: 132/7 in 96 balls (Naomi Dattani 34, Erin Burns 2/15) by three wickets.