In a low-scoring start to the second season of The Hundred, defending champions Southern Brave made a statement start to their title defence – restricting Welsh Fire to 107 for 7 and chasing it down in just 70 deliveries. Captain James Vince was at the helm of that run-chase, smashing a 41-ball 71 after his bowlers had done a fine restricting job in the first innings.
Asked to bat first, Welsh Fire were off to a dreadful start, losing openers Joe Clarke and Tom Banton, as well as Ollie Pope inside the PowerPlay (25 balls). Ben Duckett aimed to revive the innings but found no ally as the Southern Brave bowlers kept chipping away at the wickets. From 16 for 3, Welsh Fire went to 55 for 5 in 56 balls, desperately in need of a second-half partnership to push towards a workable total.
That wasn’t to be as Chris Jordan ended Duckett’s stay when the batter top-edged a ball to mid-on. Jordan finished with figures of 2 for 16 in 15 deliveries, while Craig Overton – who bowled 11 dots in 20 balls – managed 2 for 21. Southern Brave were unrelenting in their control of the proceedings, as evidenced by just the one six they conceded – to #10 batter Noor Ahmad.
Vince carried on his rollicking form from the recently-concluded T20 Blast where he spearheaded his team’s title win with the most runs for the season (678). Welsh Fire made the mistake of giving Vince a reprieve as early as the fifth ball – a pull to deep square leg dropped by Ryan Higgins. Vince made the most of it, giving his team a stroke-filled start as they raced away to 42 for 0 in 25 balls. Vince scored five of the seven boundaries that came in this period.
The opening partnership swelled, and the asking rate dipped considerably before Jake Ball returned to dismiss Alex Davies for a 21-ball 26. But this didn’t alter the course of the chase as Vince got to his half-century in the following over, off just 31 deliveries. He smashed 21 more off his next 10 balls and helped his side waltz to a comfortable and comprehensive victory with 30 balls and 9 wickets to spare.