The world is still finding its feet when it comes to understanding the detail in The Hundred, but even after a few short days, there is one theme already developing. Five of the first seven matches across both competitions have been won by the side batting second – simply put, if you know what you are chasing in a shorter format, you appear to be at an advantage.
How that theme emphatically continued here – though it did not look as though it would pan out that way at one stage. In the end, Welsh Fire may have felt they were 10 or 15 runs light after setting Northern Superchargers 131 to win, but after reducing the Superchargers to 19 for four, the balance of power looked to be with the side setting the target for once. However, there was one variable the Fire did not consider.
Throughout the powerplay in the first 25 balls, Jemimah Rodrigues cut a forlorn figure at the non-striker’s end. She watched four of her teammates depart inside the opening 18 deliveries, including Laura Wolvaardt, who was run out after a mix-up between her and Rodrigues. It was Rodrigues’ most significant contribution to the innings at that stage.
But after being kept off-strike for almost all of the powerplay, when Rodrigues did come to life, how she left her mark on the competition with the standout innings to date. The Indian is one of the star attractions in the women’s competition, and it is not difficult to see why after this meticulous yet destructive knock of 92 from 43 deliveries, the highest of any player in The Hundred thus far.
Every superhero needs a sidekick, and Alice Davidson-Richards more than played her part here. Davidson-Richards’ innings was nowhere near as explosive as Rodrigues’, but she was inch-perfect in ensuring there would be no repeat of the powerplay, and that the Superchargers’ match-winner saw as much of the strike as possible for the remainder of the innings.
And with Rodrigues in this kind of mood, that was all anyone in a purple shirt really needed to do. Time and time again, she played decisively, smartly and with just the right approach for almost every delivery she faced. The likes of Piepa Cleary, who bowled brilliantly in reducing the Superchargers to 19 for four, were simply powerless to prevent Rodrigues’ brilliance.
The only shame for Rodrigues and those in attendance was that there weren’t a few more runs to chase to ensure she would become the first person in Hundred history to score a century. But these kinds of innings are what you pay overseas players the big bucks for, and there will be added interest in the Superchargers after this innings.
Earlier, you felt the Fire would have been content, albeit not exactly comfortable, with their own work with the bat. Hayley Matthews was their top scorer with 30 as they made 130, a total that looked to be more than enough when Lauren Winfield-Hill, Wolvaardt, Hollie Armitage and Bess Heath all departed quickly. But then Rodrigues took control. You could be hyper-critical and say some of the Fire’s bowling left the door ajar for her and Davidson-Richards, but really, their partnership of 112 was all due to their own superb batting. Davidson-Richards steadied the ship, and Rodrigues did the rest.
If the Indian selectors were watching then they, just like the rest of us, will have enjoyed this masterclass. If the remit for The Hundred is to attract new, younger supporters to cricket, then you can guarantee at least one or two will have been inspired by the brilliance of Rodrigues here.