Welsh Fire men flop again as Trent Rockets clinch Hundred qualification spot
Dawid Malan hit a half-century as the Trent Rockets guaranteed themselves a qualification spot after a comfortable 29-run victory over the Welsh Fire at Trent Bridge.
Batting first, the home side made 172 for four thanks to a solid 89-run partnership between Alex Hales, who made 38 from 29 balls, and Malan, who claimed 58 from 37, as well as cameos from Daniel Sams (31 from 14) and Colin Munro (22 from 11).
The total was too much for the Welsh Fire with a total of 143 for six, as the Rocket’s spinners Tabraiz Shamsi – two for 12 – and Samit Patel, who claimed two for 23, spun them out of the game and ensured they would go the whole season without a win.
Put into bat, the Rockets made a bright start, with the in-form Malan striking two boundaries to start the innings. The tournament’s leading run-scorer has made batting look easy and Malan continued to impress, striking 26 from his first 12 balls to leave the Rockets on 42 for no loss after the powerplay.
The opening partnership continued to find the boundary and took the Rockets to 78 for 0 at halfway.
David Payne would eventually get the breakthrough from the 58th ball as Hales found the offside boundary sweeper to go for 38. The Nottinghamshire opener has scored over 250 runs in the group stages and put his name back into the conversation for an England call-up.
Someone who is certain to be flying to Australia for the T20 World Cup is Malan, whose 58 took his group-stage tally to 358 runs. He eventually fell from the 79th ball, holing out off the bowling of Matt Critchley.
The innings was not allowed to stutter at the end thanks to an entertaining cameo from the promoted Sams. The Australian clubbed two huge sixes off his second and third deliveries and did not look back, striking at 221. His innings and that of Munro took the Rockets up to 172 for four.
The Welsh Fire would need to get their highest total of the tournament and, with only Ben Duckett reaching the three-figure mark for tournament runs prior to the game, the odds seemed low on a Fire victory.
One underperforming star is Tom Banton, who has produced a solitary score of note this season. The former England opener started well, crashing back-to-back fours before Sam Cook got him LBW to end a poor campaign.
Clarke and Duckett would take the Fire to the powerplay on 33 for one but the introduction of spin – one of the Rocket’s strongest weapons this year – brought a wicket. Patel did Clarke in the flight to have him stumped, bringing wild celebrations as Trent Bridge celebrated one of its favourite sons.
Matthew Critchley, who scored a fifty of his own as he finished with an unbeaten 55 from 35, and Duckett (25 from 21) began rebuilding the innings and had their side in with a chance at 71 for two after 50 balls.
The Rockets’ spinners would reply again. Shamsi took the key wicket of Duckett after a good catch from Colin Munro at mid-off. Four balls later, Shamsi dismissed fellow South African David Miller.
Patel would return and pick up another scalp to take his group stage tally to 10 at an average of 16. With the spinners taking four wickets, the spark was put out of the Fire’s innings and the Rockets could start planning for the eliminators.
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