In the opening game of 2022, the century champions Southern Brave defeat Welsh Fire by nine wickets.


Southern Brave, the century champions, defeat Welsh Fire in the 2022 season opener by nine wickets.

When Southern Brave defeated Welsh Fire by nine wickets to start their Hundred defense, James Vince maintained his outstanding form with the white ball.

With 678 runs in the Vitality Blast, Brave captain Vince got the second iteration of the Hundred off to a strong start with 71 off 41 balls. Opening partner Alex Davies added a complementary 26 to his score.

Fire’s captain Ben Duckett earlier struggled to a below-par total of 107 for seven in their 100 balls, scoring 40 runs off 31 deliveries, with the next-highest score only being 11.

With two for 21, Craig Overton dominated the top order. Chris Jordan then picked up two for 16, and Vince, Davies, and Marcus Stoinis were the only batters required to complete the task with 31 balls remaining.

Vince had just finished a stellar Vitality Blast season with Hampshire, leading his county to their third championship.

It was crucial that the chance to fire him early wasn’t lost.

Sadly, Ryan Higgins blew his opportunity by dropping Vince to the boundary with the fifth ball.

When Davies hit back-to-back fours off David Payne, the second one a stunning straight drive, two boundaries through midwicket and point quickly revealed the error.

With 36 runs needed in 51 balls, Davies swatted a short delivery from Higgins to dismiss himself, and Vince quickly and forcefully cut to reach his half-century in 31 deliveries.

In order to maintain Brave’s perfect Ageas Bowl record, he waited until he was on 55 before slogging through his first six. Vince then improved his previous high of 60 in 2021 as Brave quickly scurried to victory.

The Fire top order was reduced to 31 for three in the 25-ball powerplay by Brave, who had earlier won the toss and chosen to bowl after the proceedings had been delayed by an amazing fireworks display.

Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills, and George Garton, three lightning-quick players for Brave, were absent due to various injuries and illnesses, but their depth made it insignificant.

The 41-year-old Michael Hogan bowled Ollie Pope, who missed a reverse sweep, as Overton had Joe Clarke stretching to misfire to cover for a four-ball duck and Tom Banton hoicking to deep square-leg.

The innings’ highest stand, which was 25 between Duckett and Sam Hain, was lost but wickets kept falling.

When Jake Lintott entered the attack, Rehan Ahmed, a 17-year-old leg spinner, and James Fuller’s analysis while wicketless went at under a run-per-ball while their googly touched Hain’s glove with their second ball.

Adding the finishing touches to a chaotic run-out was Fuller.

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