|The Hundred, Edgbaston|
|Birmingham Phoenix 129-9 (100 balls): Burns 45 (28); Farrant 3-23|
|Oval Invincibles 133-2 (97 balls): Van Niekerk 67* (51)|
|Invincibles win by eight wickets|
Dropped catches cost Birmingham Phoenix as Dane van Niekerk guided Oval Invincibles to an eight-wicket victory at Edgbaston in the women’s Hundred.
Van Niekerk hit a classic captain’s knock – an assured 67 not out from 51 balls – as Invincibles chased 130 with three balls to spare.
But the Phoenix dropped four catches, including South Africa international Van Niekerk on 41.
They also put down Georgia Adams twice as the Invincibles opener hit 42 in an opening partnership of 90 with Van Niekerk.
Phoenix edged back into the game after Adams was dismissed but, with 14 needed from eight balls, Van Niekerk hit a four and a six in consecutive balls.
Invincibles stay third in the table but have six points, two behind leaders Southern Brave having played a game more. Phoenix are seventh on two points and are struggling to reach the latter stages.
A captain’s knock after a tactical tweak
Middlesex all-rounder Chris Green, a BBC pundit for the game, put it perfectly at the finish.
“Dane van Niekerk, take a bow,” he said. “That was outstanding.”
Van Niekerk is the current South Africa captain. She has played 185 times for her country. All of that experience showed.
When the game got close at the end she was the calmest person in Birmingham and twice whacked Phoebe Franklin for boundaries – the second her clean strike for six over mid-wicket.
Her innings also came after a key tactical tweak.
Oval Invincibles had failed to chase relatively straightforward targets of 113 and 110 in their past two games and their in-form skipper promoted herself to the top of the order from number five.
It paid off big time – the South Africa international giving their innings impetus from the beginning.
Drops cost Phoenix
But Van Niekerk should not have been given the chance to take her side home.
With 60 runs needed from 41 balls – the game by no means done – she mistimed an attacking shot and the ball looped to Kirstie Gordon at mid-off. Gordon moved a few steps to her left but put down the simplest of chances.
In a big swing of momentum, the next two deliveries were hit for four.
Gordon was culpable again soon after, dropping 16-year-old Alice Capsey, who hit the winning runs, first ball in a disappointing Phoenix fielding display.
Gwen Davies spilled another easy chance to dismiss Adams on 34, letting the ball through her hands on the boundary edge.
Adams had already been dropped by Katie Mack on 12 but this was a difficult chance running in from the deep.
Those drops cost Phoenix the game and possibly their hopes of winning the tournament. With three games to play they are four points off third place – the position needed to qualify for the eliminator.