The Hundred may have its detractors, but it has undoubtedly given increased, and justified, profile to the women’s game which again showed it has plenty to offer in Cardiff.

An effortless, unbeaten 61 off only 39 balls from Smriti Mandhana guided Southern Brave to a second straight victory and left Welsh Fire still without a win.

Jemimah Rodrigues of Northern Superchargers may have been the standout performer in the women’s tournament to date, but Mandhana showed she is just as talented with the bat as she helped Brave ease home by eight wickets. Mandhana struck five fours and three sixes in front of a crowd of 3,000.

More than 4,000 tickets were sold for the men’s and women’s double-header, but Welsh government Covid-19 regulations and a risk assessment at Sophia Gardens limited capacity.

It meant Mandhana’s fine innings was seen by a smaller crowd than the ones that have been at other Hundred matches. Those who were left disappointed by being unable to attend despite having bought tickets will be refunded and offered free tickets for next year’s competition.

A spokesperson for the Hundred said: “Unfortunately, because of the requirements for Covid mitigations at Sophia Gardens, the capacity has been reduced which has been confirmed by local authorities.

“We hope to be able to host more than 5,000 fans at future Hundred games in line with a phased return to increasing capacities.

“Given we had already sold more tickets than the final capacity for today’s match, we have reimbursed those ticketholders we will no longer be able to accommodate in line with our Covid refund policy. We recognise this is disappointing and given the particularly late notice in this instance, we have also offered those affected free tickets to a match at Sophia Gardens next year.” Reflecting on her team’s win, Southern Brave bowler Lauren Bell said: “It’s been really good to get two wins from two, especially as we’ve had two away from home.

“Smriti is great. She was unlucky in the first game, but she’s a quality batter. It’s been hugely exciting to play in this tournament and we are settling into it the more games we play.

“There is always room for improvement and we want to keep our form going when we play in Southampton.” One criticism of the women’s game in the Hundred to date has been the standard of the ground fielding. As if to prove the naysayers wrong, Southern Brave’s Amanda-Jade Wellington started the first game of the day with a stunning run out fit to grace any international stage.

Welsh Fire made a slow start and when Bryony Smith tried to sneak a single to mid-off, Wellington was too quick for her as she swooped and hit the stumps with a direct hit. Wellington also dismissed Alice Macleod with her first ball and Welsh Fire were indebted to their West Indies star Hayley Matthews for taking them past 50.

Matthews showed lovely timing and favoured the off-side. Her lofted drives over cover were a joy to watch, but it was such a shot that led to her downfall when she was caught by Wellington from the bowling of Bell for 33 from 20 balls. Sarah Taylor followed lbw the very next ball.

The home side ran poorly between the wickets. There had been plenty of indecision throughout the innings so it was no surprise when Georgia Redmayne was run out by England’s Danni Wyatt.

A total of 110 for seven always looked like it would be below par as promising seamer Bell finished with figures of two for 19. Wyatt was superbly caught down the leg-side by Taylor at the start of the Brave’s innings although Fire required a review to confirm the dismissal.

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Mandhana smashed Smith for six but was dropped by Alex Griffiths off Nicole Harvey in the deep and it proved to be a costly miss even though Sophia Dunkley went the next ball. Mandhana could not be stopped and she struck the winning runs with a six with 16 balls still to spare.

The Welsh Fire captain, Sophie Luff, said: “Losing Sarah first ball was a big turning point for us. We haven’t got enough runs in our first two games and Southern Brave made us work really hard.

“We’re getting a bit ahead of ourselves with the bat but there is a lot of belief in this camp and we’ll take that into Saturday. We are coming up against world-class players.”


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