Sam Billings hits commanding 49 before England team-mate Curran holds his nerve to see Oval Invincibles seal nine-run win against Manchester Originals in first men’s match of the Hundred
- Sam Billings top scored for the Oval Invincibles but fell one short of his fifty
- His runs combined with a late Tom Curran cameo helped the hosts post 145-8
- Jos Buttler was dismissed cheaply as Manchester Originals struggled in chase
- Carlos Brathwaite took Invincibles close but failed to see them home to win
A powerful 49 from Sam Billings helped the Oval Invincibles men’s team emulate their female colleagues by seeing off Manchester Originals by 10 runs on the second night of the Hundred.
If a crowd of 18,126 was treated to less tension than on the previous evening, it had something to do with the pitch, which was used for both games and grew trickier as the evening wore on. And that was good news for the home spinners.
West Indian Sunil Narine flummoxed Jos Buttler, who looked out of sorts during his 10-ball eight, while Middlesex leg-spinner Nathan Sowter dismissed Tom Lammonby with his first delivery, before adding the dangerous New Zealander Colin Munro.
Sam Billings fell one short of a half-century but top scored for Oval Invincibles as they beat Manchester Originals
Sam Curran took two wickets to then help the hosts defend their score of 154 for eight
Jos Buttler (L) was dismissed cheaply in the reply before Colin Munro (R) hit a fine 20
Carlos Brathwaite fought hard, but with 19 needed off five balls, he lifted Sam Curran to Jason Roy at long-on to depart for 37 and end the Originals’ hopes. Ultimately no one could match Billings’s 30-ball effort in the Invincibles’ total of 145 for eight, which also included a late flurry from Tom Curran.
This was a different kind of evening from Wednesday, when a smaller, but no less engaged, crowd fulfilled the ECB’s hoped-for demographics – more women and children, more ice cream than beer.
On Thursday night, The Oval felt as if it could easily be hosting Surrey for a game of T20. Groups of young men gathered in advance at local pubs, and the first rendition of ‘Please don’t take me home’ echoed round the ground early in the second innings.
Carlos Brathwaite hit two fours and a six in his 37 but could not see the Originals over the line
Dutch international Fred Klaasen (centre) was the pick of the Originals bowlers in the first innings
England stars Sam Curran (left) and Jason Roy (right) were dismissed within the powerplay
No matter: the ECB were still basking in the viewing figures from Wednesday’s opener between the Invincibles and Originals women’s teams: a peak audience on the BBC of 1.6m, plus nearly 350,000 on Sky, and 180,000 on BBC iPlayer and Online.
It all added up to the most-watched women’s game ever played in the UK. Significantly, almost 35% of viewers were female.
Those numbers have vindicated the ECB’s decision to delay the first men’s match until the tournament’s second evening. But the question is what sort of coverage the remaining women’s matches – all double-headers with their male counterparts – will receive.
The organisers’ ambition of equal exposure may be about to enter a more testing phase.
And after a stuttering start Billings helped lead the fightback as the Invincibles posted 145
Billings fell for 49 but Tom Curran hit an impressive unbeaten 29 to add some valuable runs
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