Southern Brave 133 for 5 (Taylor 45*, Shrubsole 40*) beat Trent Rockets 110 for 7 (Sciver 44, Shrubsole 4-13) by 23 runs
Anya Shrubsole and Stafanie Taylor produced crucial roles with bat and then ball, as Southern Brave recovered from a catastrophic opening gambit to ease to a 23-run victory over Trent Rockets in their opening match of the women's Hundred at Trent Bridge.
The two experienced campaigners shared in an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 76, making 40 not out from 30 and 45 not out from 31 respectively, before chipping in with five wickets between them in their defence of 134, Shrubsole topping and tailing the innings superbly for the game-sealing figures of 4 for 13 in 20 balls.
Rockets' own England stars did their utmost to keep their side competitive, with Nat Sciver top-scoring in the chase with 44 from 29, including a third-wicket stand of 66 with her partner, and fiancée, Katherine Brunt. But when both were extracted in the space of three balls, their challenge fell away.
Power goes to Brave's heads
Smriti Mandhana, Danni Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley made for an imposing top three in Southern Brave's ranks, and on a venue with Trent Bridge's run-laden reputation, the expectation was for fireworks in the Powerplay … until it all went "splut".
Three dot balls from Brunt to Wyatt set the early tone - and the fourth would have been a run-out had Sammy-Jo Johnson's throw found the stumps with Wyatt scuttling through for a reckless opening single. But two balls later, and with the first of her own set, Johnson made amends in priceless style. Mandhana lined up a swipe over the short leg-side boundary, but top-edged a steepler for Michaela Kirk to cling on well in the deep.
Dunkley, England's breakthrough star of the India series, drilled Brave's opening boundary back down the ground, but perished on the drive five balls later, the victim of an exceptional first-time pick-up from Sarah Glenn at mid-off, and a sharp gather from Kathryn Bryce by the non-striker's stumps.
And Brave's formless Powerplay was capped in Sciver's first set, when Wyatt followed up a pull for four through square leg with a cramped top-edge to mid-on. The first 25 balls came and went with a scoreline of 17 for 3, and Rockets had grabbed an early stranglehold.
Taylor, Shrubsole pick up the pieces
Fortunately for Brave, the power in their line-up wasn't limited to the top three. In Taylor, West Indies' T20 World Cup-winning captain, and Shrubsole - England's 2017 World Cup hero, albeit with the ball - there was oodles of seen-it-all experience lurking down their order.
And they need all of it, as the wickets kept slipping away - Maia Bouchier threatened for a time with three forceful boundaries before a leading edge to cover off Sarah Glenn, and Amanda-Jade Wellington never got going in her 5 from nine balls. But from 57 for 5 after 55 balls, Taylor and Shrubsole racked up 76 unbeaten runs from the final 45, to set up an eminently defendable total.
After staying watchful in the Powerplay, Taylor raised her tempo mid-innings, including a vast, swept six over midwicket off Glenn. But she was starved of the strike thereafter, facing just five deliveries between balls 43 and 71, and it was Shrubsole who signalled Brave's late charge, taking ten off Bryce's third set of five including a brace of cover drives, before a slap over wide long-on for six after picking Sciver's slower ball.
She continued her assault on Glenn with two more fours in her final five, before Taylor showcased her sense of timing at the death, denting Brunt's exceptional figures with two thumps through backward square to finish unbeaten on 45 from 31.
Rockets explode in Powerplay
Four, out, four, out, four. With a single in between whiles, Rockets launched their chase with an unsubtle opening gambit. Rachel Priest fell to a fourth-ball slog as Anya Shrubsole gained revenge for her earlier clout through square leg, while Lauren Bell dispatched Sammy-Jo Johnson with her own third delivery, having just been slammed over the covers.
But Brunt arrived with a dismissive slap for four through point, and when Sciver followed a snick past the keeper for four with three more conventional boundaries in a row off Tara Norris, it seemed the tone of the chase had been established. But Shrubsole closed out the Powerplay by conceding just two more runs, and when Bell returned with three from five of her own, the tempo suddenly changed …
Wellington's five-ball maiden
Flight, loop, guile and turn… it was all on display as Amanda-Jade Wellington entered the fray with her legbreaks, and had Brunt in knots as she struggled and failed to counter her overspin. Wellington duly became the first bowler in Hundred history to serve up a "maiden" (the Sky commentators seem to think that terminology still exists even if "over" has been outlawed) and was instantly handed a second set to keep up the pressure. Brunt and Sciver scuffed a succession of singles to break the immediate stranglehold but only five runs from ten balls was an outstanding handbrake to Rockets' mid-innings momentum.
Pace off the ball was clearly the way to go, especially against the hard-heaving Brunt, who had struggled to 16 from 24 balls at the halfway mark of the chase, at which point the requirement was a stiff but obtainable 83 from 50. Sciver threatened to make it look insubstantial when she climbed into Stafanie Taylor with three fours in five, including a powerful reverse-sweep to disrupt her ploy of bowling wide outside off.
But back came Bell to deceive Sciver with an outstanding back-of-the-hand slower ball, and when Taylor returned to end Brunt's struggle with a top-edged slog to square leg, Rockets had slumped to 76 for 4 with two new batters at the crease. Despite the best efforts of Heather Graham at the death, the requirement was already out of reach by the time Shrubsole popped up with three in four balls to put the seal on a comprehensive win.