The Hundred: London Spirit edge thrilling derby against Oval Invincibles

Former England captain Eoin Morgan returned to form as London Spirit edged out Oval Invincibles in a thrilling derby in The Hundred.

Morgan, who retired from international cricket last month, smashed 47 from 29 to take London Spirit to 171-5.

Oval Invincibles looked set to slump to a heavy defeat as they slipped to 20-4 but some extraordinary hitting from the lower order kept the game alive.

Hilton Cartwright smashed 42 from 23, Tom Curran made 27 from 15 and Danny Briggs hit 29 from 11 balls as the first London derby of the tournament went down to the last ball.

Oval Invincibles needed a maximum off the final ball to secure a stunning victory or a four to tie but Sunil Narine failed to make contact as a relieved London Spirit won by three runs.

London Spirit finished bottom of The Hundred last summer – winning just one of their seven completed matches – but have made the perfect start to the 2022 edition at the expense of local rivals Oval Invincibles.

The Invincibles finished fourth last year, narrowly missing out on a place in the eliminators, but will need to improve if they are to challenge for the title over the next month.

London Spirit made a fast start to their innings after being inserted, with Adam Rossington hitting two sixes and Zak Crawley able to play some shots following his recent red-ball struggles.

Pakistan bowler Mohammad Hasnain dismissed both Spirit openers and when Narine had the dangerous Glenn Maxwell caught in the deep, the visitors’ innings threatened to stall.

Morgan and Dan Lawrence ensured the Invincibles’ fightback was short-lived as they shared a 72-run partnership to take the score from 55-3 to 127-3.

England’s 2019 World Cup-winning captain Morgan made ducks in his final two international innings but was able to rediscover his form against a strong Oval Invincibles bowling attack, hitting five fours and three sixes.

Morgan fell with 12 balls remaining but West Indies all-rounder Kieron Pollard hit found the rope twice at the death to take London Spirit to their highest Hundred total.

Narine and Reece Topley both impressed with the ball for Oval, claiming figures of 2-25 and 2-26 respectively, but the visitors looked to hold the advantage at the halfway stage.

A star-studded Invincibles line-up was more than capable of knocking off the runs but the chase looked all-but over as they slipped to 20-4 in the powerplay.

Struggling England opener Jason Roy was dismissed for a first-ball duck by Nathan Ellis and the Australian overseas also had Oval Invincibles captain Sam Billings caught at cover.

In between Ellis’ brace, Yorkshire seamer Jordan Thompson picked up the scalps of local stars Sam Curran and Will Jacks to dampen the spirit of the home crowd.

The Invincibles fought back through Cartwright, who smashed two sixes in his 23-ball 42, and Jordan Cox, who made a fluent 39, and Curran and Briggs continued the onslaught as the hosts sensed a remarkable win.

London Spirit still appeared heavy favourites as Thompson looked to defend 17 from the final five balls but two edged boundaries kept the chase firmly alive.

Six to win from the final ball became five when Thompson strayed down the leg-side but he and his London Spirit team-mates were relieved to see Narine fail to produce fireworks from the last ball as the home side’s valiant chase ended in disappointment.

London Spirit will look to make it two wins from two when they welcome Manchester Originals to Lord’s on Monday, while Oval Invincibles can pick up their first win on Sunday against Welsh Fire.

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