Southern Brave 108 for 5 (Bouchier 63*, Glenn 3-15 ) beat London Spirit 104 for 5 (Knight 44, Gibson 29, Adams 4-11) by five wickets
Dank, gloomy conditions hung over Lord’s in the lead-up to the match, but the light – if fairly constant – drizzle cleared in time for the match to go ahead, only slightly reduced to 85 balls per side and hour later than scheduled at 4pm local time before a crowd of 13,081.
Legspinner Sarah Glenn, playing her first match since having emergency surgery to remove her appendix the night after England’s second Ashes ODI in Southampton last month, wrested back control for the hosts, but Bouchier’s innings kept Brave afloat while some clever late hitting by Australian Maitlan Brown put them firmly back on top.
The 29-year-old Adams came into the match with six wickets in the competition so far, one ahead of Manchester Originals’ Fi Morris, who took all five of hers in Monday’s win over Birmingham Phoenix. Adams proceeded to extend her lead at the top of the wicket-takers’ charts with four Spirit scalps for 11 runs from her 20 balls to contain the hosts to 104 for 5.
Lauren Bell made use of the conditions from the outset, her inswing accounting for Grace Harris on the fifth delivery of the match. Harris had already been struck by a bouncer which ricocheted off her arm into her helmet grille and, three balls later, missed her attempt to drive at one which came in from outside off and crashed into the top of middle stump.
Dani Gibson, pulled and cut Bell for back-to-back fours early on and after the powerplay, reduced to 21 balls, Spirit were 30 for 1, closed out by another boundary carved away between point and cover point by Gibson, who played well for her 29 off 20 balls until she dragged an Adams delivery onto leg stump.
Knight was in fine touch, her shot-making and placement sublime as she reverse-swept, reverse-lapped and cut her way to the top score for her side who, besides Gibson, were perhaps a little rusty with the bat, Grace Scrivens the only other Spirit player to reach double-figures with 10 not out.
When Amelia Kerr gave Adams her second wicket, spooning a catch straight to Smriti Mandhana at mid-off for just 6, and then Richa Ghosh holed out to Bouchier at long-on – also off Adams, Knight stepped on the gas. She dispatched Kalea Moore’s high full toss in front of square leg for the first of three fours in Moore’s set of five, following up with another reverse-sweep then a lofted drive over cover.
With England’s Under-19 captain Scrivens batting opposite, her senior counterpart Knight picked out Moore just inside the rope at deep square leg to give Adams her fourth.
Gibson’s handy contribution continued when, having seen her on-field lbw dismissal of dangerous Brave opener Mandhana overturned when the ball was found to have pitched outside leg, she had Mandhana out for a three-ball duck with her next delivery, well caught by Kerr at backward square leg.
Five boundaries shared between Bouchier and Danni Wyatt in the space of seven balls eased the pressure from Brave and by the end of the powerplay, they were level with Spirit at 30 for 1.
Glenn broke a 38-run stand between the two with the last ball of her opening set of five when Wyatt mistimed a pull to Tara Norris at mid-on. But Bouchier forged ahead, moving from 23 off 18 balls to 48 off 32 by the time Glenn struck again, twice in three balls to regain some control for Spirit. Glenn had Adams caught by Harris at long-on then Freya Kemp edging to Ghosh behind the stumps and Brave needed 32 off 26 balls.
Gibson was back in the action with a strong catch running in from deep midwicket to remove explosive hitter Chloe Tryon off the bowling of Charlie Dean for just 4. But then Bouchier brought up her half-century with a single off Glenn.
It was Brown who chewed through the rest of the run chase, sending an inside edge off Kerr through Ghosh’s legs for four and then scooping over the keeper’s head before a third boundary in a row over short fine leg made it three needed off eight balls. Fittingly, Bouchier finished the job, with one run needed of the last five, she cut Gibson’s second ball of the set to the boundary to seal victory.
Bouchier said the rain delay hadn’t proved a distraction before play.
“We came on the pitch ready to play and that’s what we did,” she said. “We bowled really well and, and kept them down to fairly decent score and to go out there and play the way we did was really good.
“They had a, a little disadvantage not being able to play any games but in this cricket you have to be ready and I don’t think they were as ready as we were. It came down to the batting mainly. I think especially with the ball, we’ve bowled really well in our last couple of games and we’ve come back really well. So for them to come out and they were a little bit rusty with the bat, but we took advantage of that and you need to do that to keep them down to that sort of score.”
Glenn admitted there was an element of rustiness in Spirit’s first game of the tournament.
“It was the first time we were out there, but we did a real good middle practice yesterday to get us used to it so I thought we actually adapted really well and the communication was really good,” she said, adding that her side chose to ignore the rain during the morning.
“It was like, ‘no, no, we’re getting on with it’. I think we were in denial a little bit, which I think helped our mindset because we were just so eager to out there, and luckily we did.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo