What is becoming a very interesting and tightly contested season of The Hundred continues on Thursday evening when the Birmingham Phoenix look to get their campaign on track when they host the Welsh Fire at Edgbaston.
The Phoenix have run into a combination of bad weather and underperforming and will be eyeing up a first win of the season here. Welsh Fire have won one and had a washout to have them on three points and will look to move clear of a group of sides with victory here.
Where to watch
The match will be able to be watched in full on the Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Cricket and Sky Mix channels with the build-up to it beginning at 6pm ahead of the first ball at 6.30pm.
It is hard to be too critical with all the rain that has been around in this tournament but the Birmingham Phoenix have been pretty disappointing in the action that we have seen from them so far. They were on the back foot when the rain did them a favour in their opening match against the Northern Superchargers and then they were blown away by the Manchester Originals last time out in a clash where that form hasn’t exactly been franked since.
The one thing the Phoenix will be looking for in this match is a much more convincing batting performance. They had all of their gun players available in the loss at Manchester so they can’t have any excuses. To be fair though, Birmingham usually play very well at Edgbaston and they will hope that is the case here. One area where we can give the Phoenix a bit of slack is with the ball as they didn’t get to bowl until their third match so they might well have needed the run so to speak.
The Welsh Fire started the season off in fine fashion when they took the Manchester Originals’ bowling apart in a 40 ball slog but they were brought back to earth with a bit of a bump in their second match when they dominated the Southern Brave for the most part but couldn’t get over the line at the death. They then had a tie against the Oval Invincibles where again they played the better cricket but baulked at the finish line once again.
That is the first thing the Fire need to do. They have to hold themselves together in the key moments. I think it is fair to say they have bowled better up front in the innings rather than the death so that is something they can look at. A couple of their batting efforts have fallen away in the second part of the innings too so they have plenty of positives but there are areas where they can improve to become a real dangerous side.
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You would imagine that if the Birmingham Phoenix are going to win this match then someone is going to need to hit this Welsh Fire new ball attack off a length and Will Smeed would be the perfect candidate for that.
On the flip side of that, if the Welsh Fire can get through the opening pair of Smeed and Ben Duckett and into Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone early they could pepper the pair with pace and bounce so Shaheen Shah Afridi feels a real big player here.
It is hard not to like Welsh Fire at odds against here. I won’t lie and suggest that it isn’t a concern that they have come unstuck at the finish line on a couple of occasions but they are getting into the position to win which is more than we can say about the Birmingham Phoenix who have put in one complete poor batting performance and were two-thirds to the way to delivering another before the rain set in at Headingley in their first game.
Welsh Fire have left a few runs out there in the last two matches but the beauty of this side at the minute is they don’t need to be chasing the monumental scores that teams like the Phoenix might need because they have a very strong bowling unit and if they can just tighten up in the last 15 balls of both innings the Cardiff based franchise will be hard to beat. When you throw in the possibility of Jonny Bairstow returning to the ranks at the weekend there is a lot to like about the Welsh Fire at odds against.
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