Nathan Ellis and Jordan Thompson’s powerplay heroics helped London Spirit claim a three-run win over city rivals Oval Invincibles in a thrilling Hundred derby clash.
Australian fast bowler Ellis (three for 28) and Thompson (two for 31) wrecked the Invincibles top order as they reduced the home side to 12 for four chasing 172 to win at The Oval.
That looked to have ended the Invincibles’ hopes of winning but Hilton Cartwright (42), Jordan Cox (39) and Danny Briggs (29 not out off 11 balls) almost pulled off the unlikeliest of wins, only for Thompson to keep his cool amid a breathless finish.
Earlier Eoin Morgan proved the mainstay of Spirit’s 171 for six, the former England skipper making 47 off 29 balls with five fours and three sixes.
Zak Crawley (21), inevitably under the spotlight after his poor summer thus far with England, gave Spirit impetus early in the powerplay with four boundaries, including successive sweeps off Briggs.
Fellow opener Adam Rossington briefly caught the mood, hoisting Mohammad Hasnain for two huge sixes before holing out in the deep off the same bowler attempting a third.
Glenn Maxwell failed to sparkle, chewing up 16 balls for his 18 and with Morgan slow into stride Spirit were 74 for three at halfway after being sent in.
A full-bloodied pull shot for six and an audacious dink over keeper Sam Billings off the middle of the bat released Morgan’s shackles and he and Dan Lawrence then tucked into a set of five from Hasnain to the tune of 23 runs. The pair added 72 in 39 balls before the frugal Sunil Narine (two for 25) bowled Lawrence to again check the visitors’ progress.
Morgan’s fine effort ended three short of a half-century as he holed out off England paceman Reece Topley (one for 26) but a late six from the otherwise becalmed Kieron Pollard lifted Spirit to 171.
Invincibles made a nightmare start in reply. Jason Roy’s white-ball struggles continued when Ellis had him caught for a golden duck from the first ball of the innings before Thompson struck twice in the third set of five, Sam Curran mishitting tamely into the hands of Maxwell and the dangerous Will Jacks perishing to a catch in the deep.
And when Ellis returned to remove skipper Billings for a single, given out caught following a third umpire review, the hosts were in total disarray. Only 20 runs came from the powerplay and while Cox and the Australian Cartwright stemmed the bleeding, the rate continued to climb.
But Pollard gave Cox a life on 21 when he spilt a regulation catch to deny Thompson a third wicket, and when Cartwright struck a short one from Chris Wood 103 metres home hopes flickered into life once more.
The all-rounder muscled one from leg-spinner Mason Crane over the ropes in the next set, but perished to the next delivery, skying one to wicketkeeper Rossington to end the stand at 74. Cox and Tom Curran continued the quest for an unlikely win, but Ellis returned to bowl the former and when Curran (27) holed out in the deep the cause looked lost.
Briggs though refused to give up the chase reducing the target to 17 off the last set. The spinner thrashed successive fours off Thompson, but Narine was unable to hit the six needed from the final ball as Spirit scrambled home.