Vithushan Ehantharajah is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo
WI v ENG (1)
BAN v NZ (1)
AUS v PAK (1)
IND v ENG (W) (1)
SA v WI (A tour) (1)
BBL 2023 (1)
Legends League (2)
Abu Dhabi T10 (6)
ZIM v IRE (1)
SA v BAN (W) (1)
Welsh Fire 104 for 2 (Beaumont 37*, Higham 1-16) versus Northern Superchargers abandoned - Superchargers progress to final
Northern Superchargers have progressed to the final of the women's Hundred after their Eliminator with Welsh Fire was abandoned during a torrential downpour at the Kia Oval.
Superchargers, who will play Southern Brave at Lord's on Sunday, progressed by virtue of finishing second in the group stage. It was a position they sealed by beating Fire on Tuesday in both teams' last match of the group stages, taking Superchargers to 12 points, one ahead of their opponents.
The Eliminator had already been reduced to a 95-ball affair after rain pushed back the start by 45 minutes. And the agony for Fire, who finished bottom in the first two editions, is that the strong progress they made to reach 104 for 2 after 75 deliveries, having won the toss and opted to bat first, was ultimately for nothing.
An engaging 38 from Sophia Dunkley set up a platform of 59 for the first wicket, before fellow opener and Fire skipper Tammy Beaumont - 37 not out off 30 - prepared for a late assault with Laura Harris, who had 14 from 5 balls. At that point, standing umpires Sue Redfern and Mark Newell opted to take the players off the field due to the threat of lightning in the area.
In accordance with the playing conditions, the players were only permitted to return to the field once officials were confident the storm had passed. However heavy rain set in, bringing the Fire innings to a close, before the match was called off at 4.41pm local time, 30 minutes before the latest time Fire's 25-ball second innings was permitted to start.
"You never want the result to go into a final to be how it is today," Hollie Armitage, Superchargers captain, said. "But I think that shows why finishing second is so important, just like finishing first and going straight to the final. Obviously, it is a little bit bittersweet, but we're happy to be on the side that's going to Lord's tomorrow.
"We've won six out of eight games in the group stage and that's why the group stages are so important. You've got to treat every game as a final so you can try and finish at the top of the table, which was obviously our ambition. But luckily today, by finishing second, it's going to take us to the final."
Having finished bottom in both of the first two editions, Fire's about-turn, in tandem with their men's team, has been one of the stories of 2023. To have their tournament ended in such fashion was a tough pill to swallow.
"Devastated, absolutely devastated for the girls," Beaumont said. "The game was going nicely towards what would have been a decent total and I would have backed the girls to defend anything. It would have been easier to take had we been absolutely thrashed or beaten in a close one and actually lost the game.
"To go on previous results and table finishes is tough. Everyone is absolutely devastated. But that is cricket. You can't book the weather. It's been a pretty poor summer on the weather front, hasn't it? Sport is cruel, isn't it?
"Rules are rules, aren't they? At the end of the day, if we'd have won at Headingley on Tuesday and finished second we wouldn't have been complaining."
Asked if, like the final, the Eliminator should have a reserve day, Beaumont was phlegmatic. Though Fire ended up on the wrong side of the calculations here, she appreciates the nature of the Hundred, and indeed a point of difference with other franchise competitions around the world, is its compact schedule.
"They want The Hundred to be condensed and I think that is what sets it apart from any other competition. Just eight games and an Eliminator and final - that is what makes it good.
"You hear people saying the Big Bash is too long, the IPL being far too long, the games and the format. In terms of the women's team, they've had the same overseas players throughout and that is what makes it good. [With reserve days] it would have to be another four days. That is pretty good - it has just stitched us up this time."