Villani leads Rockets towards eliminator

·2-min read

Elyse Villani has taken over as skipper of the Trent Rockets, and kept alive their hopes in England's Women's Hundred.

The Australian took charge after England's Nat Sciver stepped down from the captaincy. Having masterminded a shrewd fielding performance that restricted Welsh Fire to 8-100 off their 100 balls she led from the front with the bat.

In front of a 10,000-plus crowd at Trent Bridge Rockets needed to win to have any chance of reaching Friday's eliminator between the second and third-placed teams. They also needed to do so as quickly as possible as net-run-rate (NRR) could be decisive.

Villani cracked a 38-ball half-century that included a trio of boundaries in the space of four balls bowled to her by compatriot Nicola Carey (0-29 off 15), one of which was a ramp over the wicketkeeper.

She was dropped on 46, but it was a tough chance to a diving Lauren Filer at deep mid-wicket.

Villani went on to make an unbeaten 55 off 40 balls as she added 60 off 40 balls with South Africa's Mignon du Preez, who thrashed a rapid 20-ball 32, in an unbroken third-wicket partnership.

Rockets' 2-102 off 82 balls lifted them into third on NRR. But they will only stay there if Birmingham Phoenix, who have the same number of points, lose at last-placed London Spirit on Tuesday.

In theory Northern Superchargers and Manchester Originals could also catch them if they win their remaining group matches, but they are well-behind on NRR and would need big wins respectively against Southern Brave on Wednesday, and Oval Invincibles on Thursday.

Brave and Invincibles are first and second on the ladder. First place goes straight into the final.

"We still mathematically have a chance so we will sit down tomorrow and she how the results unfold," said Villani.

On the captaincy she added: "It is something I enjoy, I do a lot of it back home and I am happy to step in and support any way I can. Nat has enough on her plate being an all-rounder."

Fire had started as if they were indeed on fire, English opener Tammy Beaumont hitting the first four balls of the innings for four. However, she was caught from her sixth and thereafter boundaries were hard to come by.

Two Australians Rachel Haynes and Annabel Sutherland perished swiftly, scoring seven off 12 balls between them, both falling to Sciver in the same five-ball set.

Carey fared better, top-scoring with 27 off 29 balls but like everyone else found compatriot Alanna King (one for ten off 20 balls) hard to get away. She was ultimately one of two catches taken by Villani, miscuing a slow full toss from Katherine Brunt.

"We wanted to play positive and be really brave," added Villani.