Oval Invincibles beat Manchester Originals in Men’s Hundred opener

Oval Invincibles took a nine-point victory over Manchester Originals in another thrilling encounter during The Hundred’s launch week.

Carlos Brathwaite almost guided the visitors to a successful pursuit but was out for 37 years as the Originals were only able to close 135 for seven ahead of 18,126 at the Kia Oval.

This was in response to the Invincibles’ 145-for-eight, led by captain Sam Billings as he scored the highest score at 49 before becoming one of three wickets to fall to Dutch international Fred Klaassen.

England internationals Sam and Tom Curran and Reece Topley then all played a role with the ball to ensure the hosts follow their women’s team in winning the Kia Oval.

After a successful opening night where the women produced a thriller for 7,395 spectators and for a TV audience which peaked at 1.95 million, it was the men’s turn.

Originals captain Jos Buttler decided to go first after correctly calling the draw as the England international was only able to feature in the first two games of the 100-ball tournament due to his test commitments on next month.

Butler threw the ball at Tom Hartley, although the off-spinner had to wait until last August to make his professional debut, but he held on by taking out both openers Sam Curran and Jason Roy.

At 48 for four, the hosts needed a partnership and Billings led the response and dominated a 57-race pit for the fifth wicket with Colin Ingram.

Billings helped pick up the momentum with two maxes on spinners Matt Parkinson and Callum Harrison, but two three-ball wickets for Steven Finn put pressure on the Oval side again.

Curran’s older brother Tom answered the call and added 29 no’s to help the Invincibles set a test goal.

After England singer Jack Garratt nearly sold out during the interval, it was back to cricket and Phil Salt welcomed Sam Curran into the crease with a limit, but the versatile had the last laugh three balls later .

Topley made sure Joe Clarke’s burst of four was short-lived as the originals ended the power play on 28-for-two.

Buttler had been deprived of the strike, but had also struggled to choose Sunil Narine. The wicket keeper finally moved the West Indian away from the limit on his ninth ball with a neat reverse sweep.

It wasn’t a sign of things to come, however, with the next delivery being sent straight to Ingram Gorge.

On the same wicket used by the women 24 hours earlier, it was getting harder and harder to score – and although a no-limit 18-ball spell was finished by Colin Munro, a second big shot soon after by the New Zealand hitter proved his loss for 26 when Nathan Sowter struck.

Nathan Sowter celebrates taking a wicket (John Walton / PA)

(PA wire)

While Brathwaite struggled with his timing, his antics in the 2016 T20 World Cup final were still fresh in the memory and a paddle sweep for four from his partner Harrison was a welcome relief as the race rate was increasing.

The versatile threatened to release the chains when successive four were hit by Topley to leave the equation at 58 required on 30 balls.

After Sowter and Narine kept him tight for a 10-bullet spell, Brathwaite upped the spirits of the originals with a lavish cover disc for six.

Harrison, with a professional cricket best score of 37, also played a role but left after a Sam Curran foursome was followed by revenge served by his brother Tom who saw his younger brother catch the spinner for 23 .

Much like a day earlier it played out on the wire, but Brathwaite’s attempt to make the most of Sam Curran’s opening ball saw his innings end for 37 with the originals still needing 19 on four balls.

A no-ball added to the drama, but the younger Curran got the job done to ensure that the second night of The Hundred ended the same as the first – with an Oval Invincibles victory.

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