Southern Brave looked a million dollars last year as they couldn't put a foot wrong, until the last game when they were outclassed by the Oval Invincibles. A team that is led wonderfully by Anya Shrubsole is bolstered further by their overseas signings & looks like the strong favorites to make it to the top this year as well. London Spirit have taken a hit with Heather Knight getting ruled out & it will be the young Charlie Dean who will be leading the side.
VENUE: Ageas Bowl, Southampton
The Ageas Bowl does not support any specific facet or a type of bowler. The venue provides balanced pitches that has something in it for everyone. In the three full-fledged games last year, the average score was 140. Expect the trend to remain similar this year as well with scores in that range being hit.
- In a matter of few months, who'd have thought that Alana King will become Australia's go-to leg spinner & dethrone Amanda-Jade Wellington who has been performing really well for so long? Well that's the fate she has suffered and found herself warming the bench in most of the games across all formats. The Hundred brings fresh hope for her & she'd be raring to outshine her compatriot who is playing for the Trent Rockets. The only time these two teams have met saw Wellington bag the POTM for her 4/14!
- Brave have not one, but two young pacers in their side who are equally tall & share the same skillsets. Lauren Bell will have the company of Freya Kemp. This is an incredibly exciting pairing as the duo has one of the best back-of-the-hand variations that they dish out after the PP. Why the two can hunt in pairs and be very dangerous is because one is a RAP & the other is a LAP!
- One of the best additions they have made has to be Tahlia McGrath. They have replaced Stafanie Taylor with Mcgrath who has been scoring runs for fun & picking the wickets for fun. She's a massive upgrade to Taylor considering how she bats & the pace option she offers.
- Smriti Mandhana will again be that vital LHB option. In fact, she's the only LHB option in the side along with Kemp. She's most likely to partner up with Danni Wyatt.
- Two players have switched from the Oval Invincibles to Southern Brave. One is Georgia Adams and the other is Jo Gardner. Adams' effectiveness might take a hit as she'll have to bat out of her preferred position as an opener & could have a dull competition. Gardner is an asset like Dani Gibson that's never used properly by the teams, and she might suffer the same fate with this team.
The team has a severe shortage of spinners & the problem is that two of them are overseas. This might see Georgia Adams roll her arm over & lead to the exclusions of Paige Scholfield and Tara Norris as the team has enough pacers. There's an outside chance of Lauren Bell missing out too. Also, Molly Strano could be considered for this specific game & could see Wellington miss out as London are likely to open with 2 LHBs & have more down the order!
1) Smriti Mandhana, 2) Danni Wyatt, 3) Sophia Dunkley, 4) Tahlia McGrath, 5) Georgia Adams, 6) Maia Bouchier, 7) Carla Rudd (wk), 8) Anya Shrubsole, 9) Freya Kemp, 10) Amanda-Jade Wellington, 11) Lauren Bell
- Despite Heather Knight being ruled out of the competition, the London Spirit look strong because of their domestic players & overseas signings. Charlie Dean, who made a mark in last year's Hundred as an off-spinner despite some big names in the side, will be leading the team against a team full of her teammates from the Southern Vipers. She will share the RAO duty with another gun all-rounder in Grace Scrivens.
- The temptation & the excitement is for real, but unlikely to take place. The Spirit have two pacers in Megan Schutt & Jess Kerr who like to hoop the ball back in & use their leg-cutters as variations. However, only one will get the nod. If Spirit are looking for someone who can also add runs with the bat, then Jess will be preferred.
- Surprise! A team that had no wrist-spinners have two this year! Amelia Kerr & Nancy Harman are the two options that Spirit have with Harman likely to miss out as a definite starter. Both can bowl well and can bat well. So the team might not be looking to add both in the XI!
- The biggest threat that London Spirit face comes in the form of slow scoring. Beth Mooney and Amelia Kerr are both slow starters & take a while to get going in this format. The problem is that no other batter in this team barring Dani Gibson, Grace Scrivens & Nancy Harman can provide quick runs. But Scrivens is likely to bat out of her preferred position, Harman might not be in the XI, & Gibson is always misused by teams! Naomi Dattani is another option, but she has a problem with consistency. So where are the quick runs coming from?
The team faces a massive issue of playing the right players in the right positions. They have too many players who play the same role & can't have all involved. In fact, they are potentially looking at two LHBs opening & that could bring off-spinners right into the game from Ball 1 (a variety that Southern Brave does not have in abundance).
1) Beth Mooney, 2) Naomi Dattani, 3) Sophie Luff, 4) Amelia Kerr, 5) Grace Scrivens, 6) Dani Gibson, 7) Charlie Dean, 8) Amara Carr (wk), 9) Freya Davies, 10) Grace Ballinger/Nancy Harman, 11) Megan Schutt
Southern Brave are the favorites to win the game. London Spirit have a strong batting lineup, but could face a slowdown issue!