Southern Brave 134 for 4 (Conway 54*) beat Manchester Originals 130 for 8 (Buttler 45, Mills 3-27) by six wickets
Mills’ deceptive left-arm was perfect for this used, pace-off pitch. He returned 3 for 27 from 20 balls, and his tally of 15 wickets is now more than anyone else in the competition.
Brave, who won with five balls to spare, remain on course to reclaim the title they won in 2021 – the Hundred’s inaugural year – and they will face last year’s finalists Manchester at the Oval on Saturday evening. The winners face the Oval Invincibles in the Lord’s final 24 hours later.
Manchester were all but qualified in second place before a ball was bowled. Brave needed to chase their target in 50 balls to knock them out.
Phil Salt, with two fours and a towering straight six in 17 off eight balls, was their most aggressive batter, and sluggish conditions were best highlighted by Buttler lacking fluency.
Despite all being said about pace off, Buttler had to evade a fabulous early bouncer from left-arm seamer George Garton.
Buttler later reverse-swept a couple of his five boundaries but didn’t hit a six before being caught at long-on off Rehan Ahmed’s leg-spin.
At 110 for 5 with 16 balls remaining, it was evident the Originals were going to have to bowl well to win.
Ahmed finished with 2 for 26 from his 20 balls, while fellow spinners Mitch Santner and Colin Ackermann were miserly. The latter struck once, and the trio’s combined figures were 3 for 53 off 50 balls.
Mills had removed Salt, caught at deep midwicket with the new ball, before returning at death to outfox and bowl Jamie Overton off an inside edge and get Tom Hartley caught.
Manchester only scoring eight runs and losing three wickets in the last 10 balls of their innings felt decisive, and so it proved.
An eventful opening set of five balls at the start of the Brave chase saw Finn Allen hit two fours and an uppercut six before falling caught at short fine-leg against a Josh Tongue short ball.
Conway then took on the aggressor’s role as some sweeping rain had everyone looking for the Duckworth Lewis Stern par score. But Brave were well ahead, reaching 25 balls at 51 for 1. Rain did briefly intervene at 52 for 1 after 26, but play resumed and Brave calmly sealed their qualification.
Either side of the rain delay, Conway and second-wicket partner James Vince hit sixes over long-on off Hartley in sharing 67, skipper Vince adding 33. His departure, caught at long-on off Ashton Turner’s off-spin started a mini collapse from 81 for 1 after 53 balls to 91 for 4 after 64.
Pakistani pacer Zaman Khan’s slingy action had Derbyshire team-mate Leus du Plooy caught and Joe Weatherley lbw. Khan built pressure impressively with 2 for 22 to take the game down to the penultimate set of five balls. But Conway reached his first fifty of the campaign off 38 balls and quelled concerns.