By Alex Smith
Marizanne Kapp produced a scintillating all-round performance to send Oval Invincibles to The Hundred final after a 20-run victory over Birmingham Phoenix.
South African Kapp and Alice Capsey’s half-century partnership helped the Invincibles up to 114 – although Emily Arlott’s accuracy and Kirstie Gordon’s two for 22 had stemmed them from anything more impressive.
Phoenix appeared to be cruising at 66 for two at the halfway point before Kapp’s three for 21 and Tash Farrant’s four for 10 turned the match around – as Phoenix were bowled out for 94 with six balls to spare.
Invincibles will now face Southern Brave in the final at Lord’s on Saturday.
Invincibles, having been put in at the Kia Oval, spent the first half of their innings slowly accumulating runs while losing wickets.
Georgia Adams initially got away with an edge behind before a tentatively taken review betrayed her before Dane van Niekerk chipped to mid on and Fran Wilson smashed back at a pumped-up Gordon.
At 36 for three a resurgence was desperately needed and through Kapp and Capsey they found the backbone of their total.
Capsey, who recently took her GCSEs, once again underlined why many consider her to be the future of England’s top-order.
The 17-year-old twice thrashed through mid-off to sandwich a sumptuous reverse sweep – each boundary met with the waving of a handmade “Capsey my hero” banner from a young girl among the 12,125 in attendance.
Kapp was equally effective in the 54-run stand and muscled a six over long-on before skying to long on to depart for 37.
The foundations for a decent total had been laid but a horror last 10 balls saw them only score 14 runs while losing Capsey and Jo Gardner run out and Mady Villiers caught.
In reply, Shafali Verma’s opening replacement Katie Mack edged Kapp behind third ball before Eve Jones fell in identical style to the 13th ball of the innings, but the first she had faced.
Australian Erin Burns and Amy Jones appeared to have the chase in order having serenely put on 52 but in two balls set about an almighty collapse of eight for 28 in 44 balls.
Burns was incredibly caught by a fully extended Farrant at mid-off and then Jones offered a simple catch extra cover.
Another fine catch, this time a caught and bowled by van Niekerk, saw off Marie Kelly, before Issy Wong had her leg stump removed by Ismail.
The wheels completely fell off as Gwenan Davies top-edged to Bryce, Georgia Elwiss was caught and bowled by Capsey, Arlott slogged to long on and Gordon struck to cover.
“We are so happy to get through to the final,” Farrant said. “That was our goal and to win that game was really special.
“Kappy started so well and had a really good 10 or 15 to put them on the back foot and then they had a good partnership but we knew if we got a few wickets we were into the tail. It has been great to have Kapp and Ismail around as two of the best bowlers in the world.
“Kappy and Capsey’s partnership was crucial. We were a bit short with the bat but they got us up to a defendable score
“It isn’t frustrating we can’t celebrate today. It is a big enough carrot dangling in front of us to win at Lord’s tomorrow. We’ll rest up, get some protein shakes, have a good stretch and be raring to go tomorrow.”
Birmingham Phoenix head coach Ben Sawyer said: “It is very disappointing to lose those wickets in such a short period of time. You aren’t going to win many games doing that.
“If Amy and Erin could have faced another 20 balls I would have felt confident but it is always hard when you lose your two set batters one after another. It is difficult for a young lineup to come in with a run a ball against bowlers like Kapp and Ismail.
“This game can’t define our season. We are a very young team and it looks good for the future. It is important they leave here with their heads up.”
Result: Oval Invincibles 114/6 beat Birmingham Phoenix 94 by 20 runs