Sublime Sciver seals Trent Rockets' win after Graham, Johnson restrict Welsh Fire

Shajin Mohanan S
06 Aug 2021
Sublime Sciver seals Trent Rockets' win after Graham, Johnson restrict Welsh Fire

Natalie Sciver (L), Sammy-Jo Johnson, Heather Graham (R) © Getty Images

Skipper Natalie Sciver continued her dream run in the pursuit of a moderate chase for Trent Rockets after Australian allrounders Sammy-Jo Johnson and Heather Graham combined to restrict Welsh Fire to 102 all out. Sciver didn’t reign in her natural instincts as she took apart Fire’s bowlers in an excellent knock of 54 off 40 balls and that innings made sure that Rockets were eventually home despite a late wobble to register their third win in The Hundred in Cardiff on Friday (August 6).

Chasing 103 to win, Rockets didn’t have the greatest of starts despite Rachel Priest looking in a hurry. The former New Zealand wicket-keeper smashed two boundaries before Bryony Smith castled her with the final ball of the first set.

Batting at three, Sciver started once again making it look like million dollars as she smashed Piepa Cleary for a four through mid-wicket before a lucky inside edge giving her another boundary in the next ball. Matthews had Sammy-Jo Johnson caught plumb in front of the wicket for a duck to keep Fire interested in an unlikely win.

But if that had to happen, Fire needed to prevent Sciver from running away with the chase. There was no stopping the England allrounder, she threaded Cleary for another four through point even as Katherine Brunt took her time at the other end. Sciver was severe on Georgia Hennessy and smashed three fours in the second set of the medium pacer.

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With Brunt also finding her bearings to hit a boundary to take the partnership over the fifty-mark, Fire called for a strategic time out after the 58th ball and Rockets needed 35 runs from the last 42 balls. The onslaught from Sciver continued. She was precise in her footwork, going deep into the crease and getting on to the front foot to pepper the boundaries straight down the ground and on the off-side. She brought up her fifty from 35 balls with a single of Hannah Baker.

It looked all but done at that stage with Rockets needing only 22 runs from the last 30 balls. However, Cleary didn't want to give up and accounted for the duo while also taking a good running catch at long-on to dismiss Heather Graham. Those three wickets seemed to have set the panic in the Rockets camp and soon they lost Sarah Glenn to Baker for just three.

With Rockets needing five from the last two sets, Abigail Freeborn smashed Baker through cover for the winning runs to finish the game with eight balls to spare. For Fire, Matthews and Cleary took two wickets each.

Earlier, put into bat, Welsh Fire openers Smith and Matthews had contrasting starts. Smith started with a fluent shot to long-on for a boundary in the first ball off Brunt before driving Kathryn Bryce through the off-side for another four. But Matthews struggled at the other end scoring only 13 from her first 25 balls and Fire could reach only 22 at the end of the power play.

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Post the power play, Smith went after Johnson in the sixth set to smash a six over deep mid-wicket before adding another four through the off-side. Just as it looked like Smith was the aggressor who could take Fire to take to a competitive total, Johnson struck to castle Smith for a well-made 27 off 20 balls. Soon they lost another wicket with a hesitation causing Georgia Redmayne’s run out.

Fire were on 52 for two at the half-way stage of the innings and eventually Matthews had her way when she took on Sarah Glenn to hit a couple of fours before launching the leg-spinner over long-on for a maximum. With Sarah Taylor hitting Natalie Sciver for a boundary, they looked prim for a final assault with the score reading 75 for 2 from 60 balls.

However, next set by Graham extinguished all the hopes of Fire as she send both Matthews and Taylor back in the space of three deliveries to leave the Welsh side stuttering at 76 for four.

From there, it was slow going for Fire with Sophie Luff trying to steady the innings in the company of Georgia Hennessy. But it was time for Johnson to shine and she struck twice in her set just before the time out to send both of them back. In the last ten balls, Welsh batters wobbled and fumbled as they lost last six wickets for just six runs to be bowled out for 102 in the last ball.

For Rockets, Graham was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 14 while Johnson took three wickets for 24 runs. Priest was terrific behind the stumps and accounted for three stumpings while also standing up admirably to the pacers.

Brief Scores: Welsh Fire 102/10 in 100 balls (Hayley Matthews 28; Heather Graham 3/14, Sammy-Jo Johnson 3/24) lost to Trent Rockets 103/6 in 92 balls (Natalie Sciver 54; Hayley Matthews 2/13, Piepa Cleary 2/21) by 4 wickets. POTM: Natalie Sciver