|Women’s Hundred: Sophia Gardens|
|Welsh Fire 110-7 (100 balls): Matthews 33 (20); Bell 2-19|
|Southern Brave 112-2 (84 balls): Mandhana 61* (39)|
|Southern Brave won by 8 wickets|
India star Smriti Mandhana powered Southern Brave to a comfortable victory over Welsh Fire in the women’s Hundred.
Mandhana was dropped on 26 and made Fire’s bowlers pay as she hit 61 not out from 39 balls to lead her side to a victory which she sealed with a towering six.
Winless Fire could only manage 110-7 from their 100 balls thanks to a fine performance with the ball and in the field from the unbeaten Brave.
When Bryony Smith was run out by a direct hit for the first wicket, it set the tone for the rest of the innings.
Bell changes the game for Brave
Early on, West Indies’ Hayley Matthews looked good for Fire – she hit six glorious boundaries on her way to 33 from 20 balls as the Fire went along at more than a run a ball.
Enter Lauren Bell.
Nicknamed ‘The Shard’ for being so tall, the 20-year-old fast bowler combined pace and swing – getting the ball to move through the air – to change the course of the game.
Matthews got a thick edge that gifted a simple catch to Amanda-Jade Wellington, while Sarah Taylor was bamboozled first ball by a full delivery that caught her lbw. Taylor reviewed it, but it seemed an act of desperation.
It left Welsh Fire in tatters at 52-4. Bell changed the game – and Fire never recovered.
Another day, another Sarah Taylor classic
There wasn’t much for Welsh Fire to cheer throughout the day, but seeing Sarah Taylor back to her brilliant best was at least something.
Taylor has openly spoken about her struggles with anxiety, and has spent a fair amount of time away from cricket because of it.
But 2021 marks her return to the game – and today she reminded us all of what makes her so good when she pulls on the gloves.
Danni Wyatt, Taylor’s former England team-mate, played at a ball that was going down the leg side, got a thick edge and somehow, with those lightning fast hands, Taylor held onto the ball while standing up to the stumps.
Blink and you’d have missed it. Of course, Taylor never does.
“That just shows why she is world-class, and one of the best – if not the best – wicketkeepers to have ever played the game,” said Australian bowler Chris Green on BBC Radio 5 Live Sport Extra.