The Hundred: Who will win the Eliminators and make Saturday’s finals at Lord’s?
Southern Brave women and Birmingham Phoenix men are busy preparing for Saturday’s Hundred finals at Lord’s – but who will their opponents be?
That will be decided during Friday’s Eliminators across London at The Kia Oval as Oval Invincibles and Birmingham Phoenix meet in the women’s fixture (2.30pm, Sky Sports The Hundred) before Southern Brave and Trent Rockets face off in the men’s (6pm, Sky Sports The Hundred).
Here we look at the sides involved…
Women’s Eliminator – Invincibles vs Phoenix
The Hundred Live
August 20, 2021, 2:30pm
Group stage: 2nd (4 wins, 3 defeats, 1 no result)
Top run-scorer: Dane van Niekerk (231 runs)
Top wicket-taker: Tash Farrant (14 wickets)
Why they will win the Eliminator: Home advantage could prove crucial for the girls in green. They suffered just one defeat at The Kia Oval in the group phase – that a surprise reverse against Welsh Fire – with a no result sandwiched by a thrilling win over Manchester Originals on opening night and a demolition of London Spirit. They have arguably the best captain in the competition in Van Niekerk and a ferocious bowling attack of Van Niekerk’s fellow South Africans Shabnim Ismail – who clocked the fastest ball in the women’s tournament at 78mph – and Marizanne Kapp plus England’s Farrant. Add in the spin of Van Niekerk herself, Mady Villiers and 17-year-old Alice Capsey and Invincibles will be confident of containing a Phoenix team shorn of a 17-year-old of their own, Shafali Verma, and one they defeated at Edgbaston in the group phase.
Why they won’t win the Eliminator: With home advantage comes intense pressure, especially in a semi-final, and Invincibles have been prone to a few wobbles. In their defeats to Northern Superchargers and Welsh Fire, they faltered chasing low and seemingly attainable targets, while they come into the Eliminator off the back of being skittled for just 85 by Brave. There has also been an overreliance on Van Niekerk for runs. Capsey’s sparkling 59 against Spirit at Lord’s is the only time a better bar the skipper has passed 42, while Fran Wilson is averaging below nine after hitting just 62 runs in seven knocks. Oh yeah, and they are facing a team in a rich vein of form…
Group stage: 3rd (4 wins, 4 defeats)
Top run-scorer: Eve Jones (233 runs)
Top wicket-taker: Kirstie Gordon (13 wickets)
Why they will win the Eliminator: Just look at the run they are on! Phoenix seemed all-but eliminated almost two weeks ago after losing four of their first five matches but then went on to see off Fire, Trent Rockets, and Superchargers to grab third place in the standings. Instrumental in that run has been left-handed opener Eve Jones, who struck an unbeaten 52 against Fire and 64 against Superchargers on Tuesday night. Jones also excelled in the field versus Superchargers with a spectacular catch to dismiss Lauren Winfield-Hill when the Headingley side were well placed in the run chase. Phoenix are a well-balanced team, though, with other batters chipping and the bowling attack containing the left-arm spin of Gordon and the speed of Emily Arlott and Issy Wong. As Brave captain Anya Shrubsole said: “They are really resourceful. People come in down the order who do a really good job and they have variety in their bowling.”
Why they won’t win the Eliminator: No Verma. Yes, the Indian teenager – who has left in order to link up with her national side ahead of their tour of Australia – has not ignited as we may have expected in this tournament but she was on top form against Fire when she blazed 76 from just 42 balls, with nine fours and two sixes. When Verma is around, there is that added fear factor for opposition bowlers and you can bet Van Niekerk and her Invincibles side will be pleased that the batter will be absent. Phoenix captain Amy Jones has sung the praises of potential replacements Marie Kelly, Ria Fackrell and Thea Brookes but none of those has played a game in The Hundred this term and you do not really want to come into a semi-final cold, while Jones herself has not been in great form – albeit an 11-ball 24 against Superchargers last time out could be a good omen.
Men’s Eliminator – Brave vs Rockets
Brave vs Rockets
August 20, 2021, 6:00pm
Group stage: 2nd (5 wins, 2 defeats, 1 no result)
Top run-scorer: Quinton de Kock (189 runs)
Top wicket-taker: Jake Lintott (10 wickets)
Why they will win the Eliminator: Much like Birmingham Phoenix’s women’s teams, Southern Brave men come into the Eliminator in red-hot form. Defeats in their first two games – including to Friday’s opponents Rockets in their opening fixture – seem a long time ago now, with James Vince’s side since reeling off five wins in a row, two before and three after their clash with Manchester Originals fell victim to the rain. De Kock and Vince have been reliable contributors with the bat, as has Alex Davies, while the bowling attack is headed in the pace department by Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills. They might not have taken oodles of wickets – Jordan has seven and Mills four – but their death bowling has been extremely good, so even if the batsmen misfire, Brave will fancy their chances. A word, too, on left-arm wrist-spinner Jake Lintott, whose rise from teacher to key cricketer has continued with 10 wickets – after being selected as a wildcard pick.
Why they won’t win the Eliminator: It’s hard to think of too many negatives as far as Brave are concerned but here goes… Rockets probably do have more spin depth with Samit Patel and Mat Carter supporting Rashid Khan, while you never know if there will be any scars left over from that opening game of the tournament against Rockets when Vince’s side were rocked by Marchant de Lange’s five-wicket haul. Also, the team’s victories have primarily come in Southampton, so can they adapt to a different ground? Brave will also be missing New Zealand’s Colin de Grandhomme due to international commitments but, aside from his score of 40 against Invincibles last time out, he has not really set the tournament alight and replacement Tim David has been in great form for Surrey in the Royal London Cup with two hundreds and a fifty across his last four knocks.
Group stage: 3rd (5 wins, 3 defeats)
Top run-scorer: Dawid Malan (200 runs)
Top wicket-taker: Rashid Khan (12 wickets)
Why they will win the Eliminator: Rashid Khan. The current situation in Afghanistan is no doubt on the spinner’s mind and Rockets captain Lewis Gregory has said Rashid is not his usual bubbly self but the bowler is still delivering time and time again on the pitch. Twelve wickets in the tournament, a tally only matched by Northern Superchargers’ Adil Rashid, with a trio of three-wicket hauls, including one against Invincibles last time out. He gets batsmen out and he does not go for many runs. Brave will have to be at their best to combat him. This is a Rockets team with quality all the way down, though – Dawid Malan, Alex Hales, Samit Patel, Gregory, De Lange, Carter, D’Arcy Short. They were seen as many people’s favourites before a ball was bowled in the competition for a reason.
Why they won’t win the Eliminator: Their form. It was hot to start with as they won their first three games but it is now just two victories in five for Gregory’s men. If they shade Brave in the spin department, then they are definitely shaded when it comes to seam, despite the presence of De Lange. Luke Wood impressed for Rockets earlier in the tournament but was then ruled out for the rest of it through injury and the Rockets’ pace reserves do look short. Rockets have quality, wily cricketers in their ranks – including the magician Rashid – but Brave have the momentum and seem the likelier side to secure a Saturday showdown with Phoenix.
Watch The Hundred Eliminators live on Sky Sports from 2.30pm on Friday.
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