The Hundred: Oval Invincibles secure entertaining win over Manchester Originals in first men’s game

Oval Invincibles 145-8 (100 balls): Billings 49, T Curran 29; Klaassen 3-23
Manchester Originals 136-7 (100 balls): Brathwaite 37, Sowter 2-18
Invincibles win by nine runs

Oval Invincibles edged out Manchester Originals by nine runs as the men’s Hundred kicked off in entertaining fashion at The Oval.

After a poor start, Originals’ Carlos Brathwaite hit 37 from 29 balls but, with 19 needed from the last five balls, the West Indies international was caught.

It was a fine Invincibles bowling performance which secured the win after captain Sam Billings had earlier hit 49 to lead a recovery from 32-3 to 145-8 from their 100 balls.

Here are BBC Sport’s takeaways from the Invincibles’ win.

Another entertaining night at The Oval

This match didn’t quite match the drama of the women’s opener but it was still another entertaining night at The Oval – the match lit up by nutmegs, diving catches and a pair of brilliant brothers, two of 15 internationals across the two XIs.

Manchester started badly in their chase, England’s Phil Salt and Jos Buttler making just four and eight respectively. After 41 balls they were 50-4.

But with Brathwaite at the crease almost anything is possible – as England fans know after he downed Ben Stokes in stunning fashion in the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup final.

Needing 47 runs from the last 20 balls he hit England’s Tom Curran for six and the home crowd of 18,126 – another positive attendance at the start of cricket’s newest competition – were nervous.

Ultimately, though, it was the other Curran, Sam – Tom’s younger brother – who had Brathwaite caught at long-on, leaving the West Indies star to slump from the field dejected, taking Manchester’s hopes with him.

Currans lead impressive Invincibles bowling performance

At the halfway stage, Manchester were probably favourites after restricting the Invincibles to a below-par score.

Up stepped the Invincibles bowling attack – led by the Currans.

Tom had already impressed the crowd with a nutmeg shot with the bat. With the ball – his now trademark headband on – he bowled the penultimate set of five balls and removed Calvin Harrison, who made 23 from 16 in support of Brathwaite.

Twenty-three-year-old Sam, hair bleached blonde a la Phil Foden, bowled the first five balls and the last five, deceiving the Manchester batters with slower balls, which he later told BBC Sport he has honed with the help of West Indies’ all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.

It was was impressive from the two local England internationals, both of whom came through the Surrey academy.

They were supported well by another England international Reece Topley, who had the dangerous Joe Clarke caught behind for 15, and a less well-known name, spinner Nathan Sowter, who chipped in with 2-18.

Buttler quiet in Manchester defeat

Buttler, a key member of England’s 2019 World Cup-winning team, is one of the most destructive batters in the world at his best.

Here, as he did in England’s Twenty20 win over Pakistan on Tuesday, he struggled for fluency.

He only hit one four in his 10 balls – a reverse sweep one ball before he was dismissed.

All of Manchester’s star names, skipper Buttler and Salt with the bat, or Matt Parkinson with the ball, had quiet nights.

Buttler will only have one more game in The Hundred before leaving for England duty but the others must find their feet for Manchester to go far.

Manchester Originals were always behind the rate against Oval Invincibles, as this worm chart shows
Manchester Originals were always behind the rate against Oval Invincibles, as this worm chart shows

Good night for captain Billings

Sam Billings’ knock was crucial. He largely targeted the leg side, hitting two big sixes.

But impressive too was how he marshalled his team in the field. A change in the field helped see off Buttler and he even took a well-timed strategic time out with 10 balls needed and the game in the balance.

“He has just gone about it cleverly,” said England Women’s World Cup winner and BBC pundit Alex Hartley.

“Buttler hit a reverse sweep, he put that fielder back so Buttler had to go over extra cover and that is where he was caught. Billings has been absolutely outstanding.”

The run map shows Sam Billings scored 49 with 2 sixes, 4 fours, 3 two, and 15 singles for Oval Invincibles Men
Sam Billings scored a large majority of his runs through the leg side

Hundred tactics begin to emerge

The game also saw new tactics, brought about by The Hundred’s new rules, begin to emerge.

Both Sam Curran and Manchester left-arm spinner Tom Hartley took up the option of bowling 10 consecutive deliveries at the start of each innings.

In Invincibles’ batting innings and in an attempt to take advantage of the fielding restrictions, Sam Curran was promoted to open, an unfamiliar position the left-hander who usually bats in the middle order.

He hit a six from his fourth ball but then became Hartley’s first victim, bowled by a quicker delivery by the spinner.

Hartley was probably the Originals’ most impressive bowler, also dismissing England batter Jason Roy – he was caught brilliantly by Tom Lammonby diving forward in the deep for 20 – and taking 2-20 despite bowling 15 balls in the powerplay and five at the end.

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