Welsh Fire cruise past Birmingham Phoenix
Welsh Fire thrashed Birmingham Phoenix by six wickets in the men’s Hundred at Edgbaston.
The visitors eased home with 15 balls to spare to record their second win of the campaign while Birmingham remained winless after four games.
Phoenix chose to bat but mustered only 112 for seven thanks to a strong performance from the Fire attack.
David Payne led the way with excellent sets early and late on to finish with two for 11 while strong support was lent by Roelof van der Merwe (two for 16) and Haris Rauf (two for 20).
The visitors then blazed to 116 for four from 85 balls after Stephen Eskinazi launched their reply with a ferocious 18-ball 43.
Phoenix found their early batting progress impeded by the skills of Van der Merwe. The left-arm spinner removed Will Smeed, who sent up a skier, and Ben Duckett (25), caught at short fine leg.
After Jamie Smith was bowled by an express yorker from Rauf, Van der Merwe found himself under a top-edged slog from Moeen Ali and held on at the third attempt.
Fire bowled with pace and purpose, encapsulated by the rapid, full-length delivery from Rauf which bowled Liam Livingstone (28 off 20 balls) as he attempted to land one among the spectators in the Hollies Stand.
The hosts managed just six runs from the last 10 balls, skilfully delivered by Shaheen Shah Afridi and Payne.
Blaze took their momentum emphatically into the batting as Eskinazi hit the ball to all areas in an opening stand of 67 in 32 balls with Joe Clarke.
A crumb of hope came the home side’s way when Benny Howell removed both openers in five balls and Moeen had Luke Wells trapped lbw.
But Fire’s fine work in the field had earned them the luxury of withstanding a wobble and Tom Abell’s unbeaten 23 off 18 balls saw the visitors home.
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