O2 Invincibles had a glorious 2010. They entered the season with no expectations placed on them and at the end of the year they were crowned the best team in The Hundred. The team, while coming off a good season, was a shoo-in to be relegated and had a small following of fans. The season started slow and at one point the team was even playing O2 Originals. But after two games the O2 Invincibles were up 9-2 and looking very strong.
Last night, a small group of Atlanta United’s new men’s team hosted their first game at their new stadium, in front of a crowd of just over 900 people. The game, which played out in the middle of a season’s worth of friendlies, ended in a 1-0 victory over the Manchester Originals.
The Hundred is a new cricket league in Atlanta, GA where fun and family are the order of the day. The Hundred’s first competitive match was played at the Lincoln Field (aka “The Oval”) on Saturday, April 29th.
|Billings 49, T Curran 29; Klaassen 3-23; Oval Invincibles 145-8 (100 balls).|
|Brathwaite 37, Sowter 2-18, Manchester Originals 136-7 (100 balls).|
|The Invincibles win by a score of nine runs.|
The men’s Hundred got off to a thrilling start at The Oval, with Oval Invincibles edging out Manchester Originals by nine runs.
Carlos Brathwaite of the Originals scored 37 from 29 balls after a bad start, but he was caught with 19 required from the final five balls.
After skipper Sam Billings had previously scored 49 to lead a comeback from 32-3 to 145-8 from 100 balls, the Invincibles bowling effort sealed the victory.
The Invincibles’ victory has left Sport with a few takeaways.
At The Oval, it was again another fantastic evening.
This encounter lacked the drama of the women’s opening, but it was nevertheless a fun night at The Oval, with nutmegs, diving catches, and a pair of great brothers, two of the 15 internationals between the two XIs.
Manchester United’s chase got off to a shaky start, with England’s Phil Salt and Jos Buttler managing just four and eight runs, respectively. They were 50-4 after 41 balls.
But with Brathwaite at the crease, everything is possible, as England fans know when he bowled Ben Stokes out in the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup final in spectacular manner.
He struck England’s Tom Curran for six with the score on 47 from the final 20 balls, and the home fans of 18,126 – another good turnout at the opening of cricket’s newest tournament – were anxious.
However, it was the other Curran, Sam – Tom’s younger brother – who eventually got Brathwaite at long-on, leaving the West Indian star devastated and taking Manchester’s dreams with him.
The Currans are in command. The bowling performance of the Invincibles
Manchester were undoubtedly favourites at halftime after holding the Invincibles to a below-par score.
The Invincibles bowling assault, headed by the Currans, took the field.
With a nutmeg shot with the bat, Tom had already wowed the audience. He bowled the final set of five balls with the ball, wearing his now-famous headband, and dismissed Calvin Harrison, who had scored 23 from 16 in support of Brathwaite.
Sam, who has bleached blonde hair like Phil Foden, bowled the first five and final five balls, fooling the Manchester batsmen with slower deliveries, something he subsequently told Sport he learned from West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.
The two local England internationals, both of whom came through the Surrey academy, put up a strong performance.
They were ably backed by Reece Topley, another England international, who had the dangerous Joe Clarke caught behind for 15, and Nathan Sowter, a lesser-known spinner who chipped in with 2-18.
In the Manchester loss, Buttler was deafeningly silent.
At his best, Buttler, a crucial part of England’s World Cup-winning squad in 2019, is one of the most destructive hitters in the world.
He battled for fluency here, as he did in England’s Twenty20 victory against Pakistan on Tuesday.
In his ten balls, he only struck one four – a reverse sweep one ball before being disqualified.
With the bat, Buttler and Salt, and with the ball, Matt Parkinson, all of Manchester’s big stars had quiet evenings.
Buttler will only play one more game in The Hundred before departing for England duty, but the rest of the team will need to find their feet if Manchester is to succeed.
As this worm chart illustrates, Manchester Originals were constantly behind the pace versus Oval Invincibles.
Captain Billings had a good night.
The knock by Sam Billings was important. He mostly went for the leg side, hitting two huge sixes in the process.
But it was also remarkable how he led his squad on the field. With 10 balls remaining and the game hanging in the balance, a shift in the field let Buttler escape, and he even took a well-timed strategic time out.
“He’s simply gone about it in a smart way,” said Alex Hartley, the England Women’s World Cup champion and commentator.
“Buttler hit a reverse sweep, which forced him to go over extra cover and into the outfield, where he was caught. The service in Billings has been excellent.”
The leg side was where Sam Billings scored the bulk of his touchdowns.
Hundreds of strategies start to develop.
As a result of The Hundred’s new regulations, new strategies began to develop in the game.
At the start of each innings, both Sam Curran and Manchester left-arm spinner Tom Hartley chose to bowl 10 consecutive deliveries.
Sam Curran was elevated to open in the Invincibles’ batting innings, an unusual position for the left-hander who normally bats in the middle order, in an effort to take advantage of the fielding limitations.
He struck a six off his fourth ball, but was subsequently bowled by a faster spinner and became Hartley’s first victim.
Despite delivering 15 balls in the powerplay and five at the finish, Hartley was the Originals’ most outstanding bowler, removing England batsman Jason Roy – he was caught superbly by Tom Lammonby diving forward in the deep for 20 – and taking 2-20.
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