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25th Match, Southampton, August 11, 2021, The Hundred Women's Competition
(100 balls, T:167) 127/4

Brave won by 39 runs

Player Of The Match
78 (52) & 2 catches

Smriti Mandhana, Danni Wyatt propel Southern Brave into final with easy win over Welsh Fire

Stand-out side rack up highest team total of women's competition to date with 166 for 3

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Smriti Mandhana drove Southern Brave's chase with a fluent fifty, Welsh Fire vs Southern Brave, Women's Hundred, Cardiff, July 27, 2021

Smriti Mandhana drove Southern Brave's chase with 78  •  Getty Images

Southern Brave 166 for 3 (Mandhana 78, Wyatt 53) beat Welsh Fire 127 for 4 (Redmayne 35*, Smith 33, Luff 30) by 39 runs
Southern Brave sealed their place in the inaugural final of the Hundred after Smriti Mandhana and Danni Wyatt's half-centuries helped them rack up the highest team total of the women's competition to date.
Charlotte Edwards' side have been the stand-out team in the Hundred, winning six out of their first seven group games, and are guaranteed a spot in the final at Lord's on August 21 after a 39-run win. They will play the winner of the eliminator, which takes place 24 hours earlier at The Oval between the teams finishing second and third.
They cruised to 166 against Welsh Fire - with Mandhana and Wyatt putting on 107 for the first wicket - and defended their total without breaking sweat. The result means Fire are mathematically out of contention for the knockout stages with a game to spare, though their chances were already slim after defeat to Birmingham Phoenix earlier this week.
Mandhana magic
Mandhana has had a mixed season in the Hundred, making 61 not out against Welsh Fire in Southern Brave's second game but failing to reach 20 in her five other innings. She thrived on the chance to play the same opponent - Brave's nominal local rivals - at the Ageas Bowl.
Mahela Jayawardene, Brave's men's coach, told ESPNcricinfo earlier this week that he "didn't know how Lottie [ Edwards] managed to get that top order together", in awe of her ability to recruit three of the most destructive players in the world and an experienced anchor to bat in their top four, and they lived up to that billing, surpassing Trent Rockets' tournament-high total of 151 with eight balls left in the innings.
Much as Mandhana rode her luck (see below), she looked somewhere near her best in partnership with Wyatt as they racked up Brave's highest stand of the tournament to date. This was a perfect iteration of their game plan, with Sophia Dunkley able to stride out unshackled at No. 3 and thump 23 not out off 13 balls.
"I don't know what I had for breakfast today, but I was very lucky," Mandhana said. "I haven't batted the way I'd love to throughout the tournament and luck was quite needed to get going. I wouldn't say this was one of the best knocks of my life but we got to a good total, so it's done a good job for the team."
Fire doused
To drop a player of Mandhana's quality once in a season is unfortunate; to do so twice is careless. Alex Griffiths shelled a catch off Mandhana at deep midwicket in Cardiff two weeks ago and had an early opportunity to make amends when she heaved the second ball she faced down her throat here, but it slipped through her hands to give her a reprieve before she had scored.
The missed chance appeared to dent the confidence of the rest of the side. Piepa Cleary, the Australian seamer, had Mandhana caught at mid-off on five, only for the TV umpire to spot that she had overstepped. Inevitably, the final two balls of her set disappeared for four. Mandhana offered a half-chance - at best - on 38 to Sarah Taylor behind the stumps and a tough caught-and-bowled chance to Nicole Harvey on 46.
Fire's fielding in the deep left plenty to be desired and betrayed a team low on confidence after they were Shafali Verma-d at Edgbaston on Monday night; before Wyatt's dismissal off the 69th delivery of the innings, they had gone 146 balls without one across three games.
Extinguished early
Fire needed to fly out of the blocks in the Powerplay to stand any realistic chance of hauling in such a big target, but Anya Shrubsole kept things tight with the new ball to send the required rate soaring. She bowled 15 of the first 25 balls, conceding only 14 runs, and with Hayley Matthews and Bryony Smith uncharacteristically restrained before their dismissals, the game was dead as a contest before the halfway point of the chase.
Georgia Redmayne and Sophie Luff put on 56 in 40 balls, swinging freely from a strong base and skipping down the pitch respectively to bring a veneer of respectability to the margin of defeat, but Brave's win was never in any doubt.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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