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‘The team to beat’ – Carter stars as Rockets maintain 100% start with Spirit win

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Men’s Hundred, Lord’s
Trent Rockets 123-4 (100 balls): Short 69 (47); Nabi 2-20
London Spirit 116-8 (100 balls): van der Merwe 25 (18); Carter 3-17, Patel 3-20
Trent Rockets won by seven runs
Scorecard; Table

Trent Rockets maintained their 100% record in the men’s Hundred as they edged past London Spirit in a low-scoring thriller at Lord’s.

Rockets were put into bat on a pitch that had seen two women’s Hundred’s matches played on it, and they stuttered to 123-4 – D’Arcy Short’s 47-ball 69 the highlight.

Spirit were struggling at 48-5 and 93-8, but a 23-run partnership between Blake Cullen and Roelof van der Merwe left them needing nine to win from the final three balls.

But Marchant de Lange went for a single down to third, before two dot balls sealed a seven-run win in front of 23,892 fans.

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Spirit, who are coached by Australia great Shane Warne and captained by England’s World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan, are still without a win from their opening three games.

Rockets top the eight-team table, while Spirit sit sixth.

Earlier Trent Rockets beat London Spirit in the women’s competition to pick up their first win of the tournament.

Carter stands tall for Rockets

At 6ft 6in, Matt Carter is tall for a spinner, but he is having a fine Hundred tournament.

Carter only took up spin bowling when he was almost 17, after starting to think he “wasn’t good enough to be a bowler” or “good enough to concentrate on batting”.

He was left out of the Rockets’ team for their opening-game win over Southern Brave, before taking 2-17 in their victory over Northern Superchargers on Monday.

The 25-year-old once again starred, taking 3-17 from his 20 balls, as he moved to the top of the men’s MVP standings.

The first two of those wickets fell in a 10-ball set during the powerplay, when he had Adam Rossington caught by a sensational Luke Wood diving catch from his first delivery, before Mohammad Nabi was caught at mid-on.

He later returned to get Joe Denly lbw, despite an attempted review, with his faster pace troubling the right hander.

It wasn’t just with the ball he starred. He took a magnificent catch too. He was stood at slip as Chris Wood slashed at one from Rashid Khan, and he moved quickly to his right, to take a thick outside edge at about chest height.

He was ably supported by Samit Patel, who took 3-20, and Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan who claimed 2-13.

Are the Rockets the team to beat?

With their faultless record, talk will turn to whether Trent Rockets are the team to beat in the men’s competition.

They’ve handled everything that has been thrown at them so far: their coach Andy Flower tested positive for coronavirus, they edged past Superchargers on Monday, and they found a way to post a competitive target in this game.

Going into the final two sets of their innings, they had only hit 10 boundaries in total, but Short found the boundary five times in seven balls – including four times in the final five-ball set – with flicks through the leg side, a crunching drive and an outrageous reverse slap to end the innings.

The 24 runs scored off the final seven balls were crucial. They arguably won Rockets the game.

In the field their spinners have shone, and in de Lange – who took the inaugural five-wicket haul on Sunday – and Luke Wood they have two excellent fast bowlers, who have performed at the start and end of innings so far.

So, are they the team to beat?

England women’s captain Heather Knight certainly thinks so: “They played very well again, and the fact that they’ve won some close games stands them in good stead.

“If you have those games early on in a tournament, you grow as a team too.”

And finally… backside sixes and keeper cam

We end with not one but two fantastic pieces of video – one a six which was hit by van der Merwe as he fells backwards, and the other the wicketkeeper’s view of a steepling catch.

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