Dane van Niekerk leads Oval Invincibles to a win in The Hundred opener

Shajin Mohanan S
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Dane van Niekerk leads Oval Invincibles to a win in The Hundred opener

Dane van Niekerk © Getty Images

New format and new rules saw newly formed sides taking time to find their feat as the game progressed. In the end once everything settled down, cricket came to the fore in The Hundred and skipper Dane van Niekerk led Oval Invincibles to a five-wicket win in a thriller against Manchester Originals in the opening match of the tournament at The Oval on Wednesday (July 21).

Opting to bat, Originals lost in-form Emma Lamb for a duck in the seventh ball of the innings after van Kierk chose to keep Marizanne Kapp on for the second consecutive five-ball block . In what was the first ten of the format Kapp got Lamb to edge it to Sarah Bryce behind the wicket.

However, Lee in the company of an enterprising Georgie Boyce took on the Invincibles’ bowlers as she hit the first two boundaries of the competition with back-to-back fours against Natasha Farrant. Boyce took on Kapp with a couple of fours before hitting Shabnim Ismail for another one. The pair added 55 runs for the second wicket to take Originals' score to 59 from first 47 balls.

van Niekerk’s plan to keep Mady Villiers on for consecutive fives saw the back of Boyce in the 48th ball of the innings. That brought Harmanpreet Kaur to the crease even as Lee added couple of more boundaries to her name. Kaur started with a boundary off van Niekerk when she swept the leg-spinner through square-leg. The Indian T20I skipper climbed on to Villiers hitting her last five-ball block to four boundaries.

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Just as it looked like the pair would take the game away from Invincibles, Farrant came back to remove a well-set Lee for 42. Mignon du Preez took her time to get going and Farrant struck again with the big wicket of Kaur for a 16-ball 29 in the 85th ball with the score reading 108 for four.

Post du Preez’s dismissal in the 90th ball by Kapp, Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone dealt some big blows to take the Originals’ score to 135 for six in the stipulated 100 balls.

For the Invincibles, Farrant finished with figures of three for 25 from her 20 balls while Kapp took two for 20.

In reply, Invicibles innings got off to a terrible start with the promising Alice Capsey scooping Cross straight to wicket-keeper Eleanor Threlkeld in the 7th ball before the England pacer got through Grace Gibbs in the next ball. Even though Fran Wilson glanced the hat-trick ball from Cross for a four, she didn’t last long as she hit Laura Jackson’s first ball to a leaping Kaur at mid-off to leave Invincibles reeling at 12 for three in 16 balls.

Despite all this, van Niekerk started off well with a boundary before smashing Alex Hartley over long-on for big six. Invincibles lost the fourth wicket in the form of Georgia Adams when she became the third wicket of Cross in the 32nd ball.

From there, it was down to the South African duo of van Niekerk and Kapp to have a dash at the target and they didn’t disappoint the home side. The partnership started with van Niekerk hitting Cross for a four before taking on Kaur with a couple of boundaries. At the other end, Kapp hit Jackson for a four over mid-on and followed it up with a couple more off Hartley and Lamb. The pair added 73-run for the fifth wicket to get Invincibles back on the driving seat.

Kapp was the aggressor during the partnership as she hit three fours and two sixes in her 27-ball 38 knock. When she was dismissed by a brilliant glove work from Threlkeld, Invincibles needed 28 off 17.

Invincibles scored 12 from the next seven balls leaving them to get 16 from the last ten balls. In the process, van Niekerk became the first player to score a fifty in the format when she brought up her feat in the 38th ball she faced. In the 92nd ball, Villiers took on Ecclestone and smashed her for a six over long-on and her four in the 96th ball bowled by Cross reduced the target further to just two from the four deliveries. van Niekerk finished the match off when she edged the ball through thirdman for a boundary.

Brief Scores: Manchester Originals 135/6 in 100 balls (Lizelle Lee 42, Harmanpreet Kaur 29; Natasha Farrant 3/25, Marizanne Kapp 2/20) lost to Oval Invincibles 139/5 in 98 balls (Dane van Niekerk 56*, Marizanne Kapp 38, Kate Cross 3/28) by 5 wickets POTM: Dane van Niekerk