The Oval Invincibles won the Hundred final at Lord’s by 14 runs.
It was a game where they looked dead and buried before an extraordinary partnership between Tom Curran and Jimmy Neesham turned their fortunes around.
This shouldn’t have been a contest: the Invincibles were looking anything but at 34 for five, but Lord’s finals are funny old things. Teams have come undone with the unique pressure it brings. With an excellent crowd in attendance, the team from the other side of the river were on the verge of capitulating to the Manchester Originals, who were looking not to blow another occasion to lift the heavy silverware.
The Originals succumbed to the late hitting of Lewis Gregory on that previous occasion, and they were on the end of another innings by the meaty bat of Tom Curran. It was an extraordinary innings by Curran, who in this year’s competition has pelted unsuspecting spectators with boundaries galore. His 43 not out at the Ageas Bowl gave his side enough runs to beat Southern Brave by eight runs. An eighteen-ball 38 got the Invincibles out of a hole to tie their game at The Oval against Welsh Fire.
It feels churlish to say there was nothing to lose when he strolled to join Jimmy Neesham with an almost unsurmountable amount of work to change their fortunes. It gave them a licence to play their games, and if it didn’t come off, then it was just one of those things.
Neesham isn’t the type of player to hang around, and that allowed Curran to do the same thing; the successive 64 balls cost the Originals 127 runs. Both players were creating inventive ways to find the fence. After the early success of the Originals bowlers, they could not stem the runs, and the Invincibles finished 161 for five.
Only yesterday, the Originals chased down a target of 197 with four balls to spare, so they knew they had the firepower to bring home the prize. Phil Salt started with the same intensity and raced to 25 from 15 balls before the Curran brothers combined to dismiss the destructive opener.
Originals started to lose wickets at regular intervals, and at 70 for five, they were looking for their own Curran and Neesham partnership.
Max Holden is no stranger to taking apart most of the Invincibles’ bowling attack; he scored a rapid 68 not out against a Surrey attack that contained Sam Curran, Gus Atkinson and Will Jacks at The Oval in a T20 Blast game in June.
He would be asked to repeat it in the pressure cooker of a Lord’s final. He looked up for the fight, scooping Atkinson for four. It wouldn’t be easy with 59 needed from the last 25 balls.
On 35, Holden drilled it back at Tom Curran, who couldn’t hold on. It didn’t cost the Invincibles too much as brother Sam Curran reviewed an lbw appeal that was turned down as Holden moved right across his stumps, and the ball would have clattered his leg stump.
Going into the final fifteen balls, the Originals needed 44 to win at nearly three runs a ball. It would eventually be insurmountable as the Oval Invincibles sealed a win that at one point looked unlikely.