14th Match, Birmingham, August 01, 2021, The Hundred Women's Competition

Rockets won by 11 runs

Player Of The Match
44* (21), 1/15 & 2 catches

Heather Graham, Sammy-Jo Johnson star as Rockets flex muscle

Issy Wong taken out of attack as Birmingham Phoenix see another game slip away

George Dobell
George Dobell
Katherine Brunt celebrates after removing Shafali Verma, Birmingham Phoenix vs Trent Rockets, Women's Hundred 2021, Birmingham, August 1, 2021

Katherine Brunt celebrates after removing Shafali Verma  •  Getty Images

Trent Rockets 145 for 5 (Graham 44*) beat Birmingham Phoenix 134 for 9 (Johnson 3-28) by 11 runs
Trent Rockets continued their resurgence with an 11-run victory over Birmingham Phoenix. After losing their first two matches, Trent Rockets have now won two games in succession to move into the top four of the table.
They were powered to the third-highest total in the competition so far thanks to another impressive opening stand from Sammy-Jo Johnson and Rachel Priest before Heather Graham hit an unbeaten 44 from 21 balls.
Birmingham will rue a couple of self-inflicted errors which probably left them chasing significantly more than might have been the case. Firstly, Nat Sciver was dropped on 9, while Issy Wong was withdrawn from the attack after two successive full tosses were deemed to be above waist-height and called as no-balls.
Combined with Graham's classy batting, Wong's no-balls helped Trent Rockets take 27 from the final 10 deliveries of the innings. Given the final margin of victory, it felt like a key moment.
While Eve Jones and Shafali Verma started the reply brightly, a typically wholehearted spell of bowling from Katherine Brunt and Trent Rocket's superior fielding reduced Phoenix to 92 for 7 with just 18 deliveries remaining.
A late burst of 27 off 10 from Wong, who at one stage thrashed Sciver for successive sixes, gave an engaged crowd - pushing 10,000 well before the end - something to cheer. But too much was required of her and, once she was top-edged an attempted heave into the leg-side, Brunt, running to midwicket in her insistence to claim the chance off her own bowling, the result was assured.
It leaves Birmingham Phoenix, with only one victory from their first four games, sitting uncomfortable close to the foot of the table.
Opening salvo
It's no coincidence that Trent Rockets have won both the games in which their opening partnership fired. Fresh from posting 101 for the first wicket against London Spirit, Johnson and Priest added a further 46 together here to give their side a bright start.
Their batting isn't always about sweet timing. But both players are powerful and, during the Powerplay, even their mishits tended to carry over the field. And while neither player is built for speed - an asset, perhaps, as it avoids any frustration with one batter seeking sharp runs which the other is incapable of making - they are an intimidating prospect for most bowlers.
It was Johnson who caught the eye here. Intent on heaving almost anything into the leg side - at one stage, she was reaching far outside off stump to heave Erin Burns' offspin over square-leg - she looked hugely dangerous. Her dismissal, run out backing up after Priest hit one ferociously hard back at Abtaha Maqsood only for the ball to parry off the bowler and on to the stumps, was more than a little unfortunate.
Wong's costly no-balls
With 10 deliveries of the Rockets' innings to go, Phoenix would have been fairly satisfied with their effort in the field: at 118 for 4, a chase of 130 or so was probably on the cards. Wong's final set started nicely, too, with the wicket of Sarah Glenn to an inswinging yorker.
But Wong's attempt to deliver her 19th delivery - an attempted slower ball - turned into a high full toss which was, as a result, called a no-ball. It was a marginal call, certainly, and not helped by Graham advancing down the pitch. But when the subsequent free hit also turned into a high full toss, the umpires had no choice but to withdraw Wong from the attack. Her set was completed by Emily Arlott, whose two deliveries were taken for six runs.
With each no-ball also costing two runs, it helped Trent Rockets take 15 from the penultimate set of the innings - with another 12 coming from the final five.
Brunt vs Verma (again)
One of the highlights of England's games against India were the passages of play when the veteran Brunt, now aged 36, was bowling against the precocious talent that is Verma, who is 17. There were moments during those encounters when Verma, for all her talent, didn't look especially comfortable against Brunt's hostility.
The rematch didn't disappoint. Almost immediately, Brunt tested Verma with the short ball. And while one, which was pushed into Verma and followed her as she backed away, was pulled behind square for four, it wasn't an entirely convincing shot. There was a more impressive stroke in Brunt's next set when Verma again gave herself room and was able to swat another short ball back past Brunt for a boundary.
In the end, it was a slower ball which did for Verma. Again giving herself room, Verma was this time bamboozled by a perfectly controlled delivery that looped out at 54 mph (Brunt had exceeded 70 mph earlier in her spell) and at yorker length. Brunt's roar of delight spoke volumes for how much the wicket meant to her. She may be coming towards the end of her playing career, but she's still a terrific competitor.
Graham's impetus
When Graham came to the crease, upon the loss of Sciver, Trent Rockets were 82 for 3 with 31 deliveries remaining. But so well did she bat, that she helped her team add 63 more and set a total that proved out of reach.
It was, by some distance, the most fluent innings of the match. She not only hit the only sixes of the innings - both off the bowling of Georgia Elwiss - but she timed the ball quite beautifully in driving Wong for a straight drive and reverse-sweeping Elwiss. Her unbeaten 44 from 21 was a high-quality innings which went a long way to defining this encounter.
Sciver's drop, Sciver's catch
Sciver was on 9 when she skipped down the wicket in an attempt to hit Maqsood through long-off. Sciver didn't quite time her drive, though - it was hit hard, but Eve Jones, at mid-off, really should have been taken it. Instead, it burst through her hands and Sciver went on to make 27 from 23
By contrast, Sciver pulled off an exceptional catch at mid-on to end Eve Jones' dangerous innings. Diving forward, Sciver scooped up the ball as it died on her; a chance that few other players involved in this match would have taken. It was an important breakthrough and summed-up one of the key differences between the sides.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

AskESPNcricinfo Logo
Instant answers to T20 questions
Phoenix Innings
<1 / 3>

The Hundred Women's Competition