The Hundred: Welsh Fire Men beat London Spirit Men by three wickets
Glenn Phillips struck a stunning 80 from only 35 balls to rescue Welsh Fire men’s side from a seemingly hopeless position against London Spirit and seal a three-wicket win for his team.
Welsh Fire (Men) 165/7 (19.3 ov)
London Spirit (Men) 163/5 (20 ov)
Result - Welsh Fire (Men) won by 3 wickets
An impressive innings of 72 from Josh Inglis guided the Spirit to an imposing 163 for five. Welsh Fire bowled poorly as their attack delivered far too many full tosses. Their fielding was just as bad.
Three quick wickets from the Spirit at the start of the Fire’s reply left Phillips’ team in trouble, but the New Zealander responded a knock of pure brutality.
He struck seven huge sixes and five fours and a Welsh crowd of 9,261 went wild as their team avoided finishing bottom of the Hundred pile.
That honour went to the Spirit who ended with just one win.
Fire won the toss and chose to field as Spirit openers Inglis and Adam Rossington made a quiet start before the former smashed Matt Milnes into the crowd at midwicket.
Inglis then hooked the same bowler – who had switched ends – for six although if Phillips had been on the boundary, he would surely have caught a simple catch.
Spirit reached 38 without loss from the first powerplay, but Rossington was superbly caught low down by Josh Cobb on the long-on boundary with Matt Critchley the bowler.
Inglis nonetheless carried on his merry way but he was given a life on the 50th ball of the innings when he was criminally dropped by Critchley who was far too casual on the fence.
Joe Cracknell (35) rubbed salt in Welsh wounds by taking Qais Ahmad’s next two balls for six and four. He then smashed yet another full toss into the stands.
The Fire didn’t look at the races with the ball or in the field with Milnes a target and Inglis went to 50 from only 31 balls with a single which also took his team into three figures.
Critchley’s drop of Inglis got more costly by the ball as the Australian batsman mixed raw power with some impressive placement. It forced Fire captain Ben Duckett into a desperate strategic timeout.
Duckett did catch Cracknell off yet another full toss, this time by Ryan Higgins.
But England one-day captain Eoin Morgan contributed a quickfire 25 which included a six off Luke Fletcher and him being dropped by David Lloyd. Fletcher eventually got Morgan lbw. Inglis was caught at mid-off on the penultimate ball of the innings.
Tom Banton finished an awful personal campaign in which he has failed to contribute by falling lbw to Blake Cullen to just the second legal ball of the Fire’s reply. Lloyd then followed, also falling for a duck when he was caught behind by Rossington with Cullen again the bowler.
Fire were reeling with two wickets down and as many runs on the board and when their captain Duckett chopped Brad Wheal on to his stumps, the game was effectively up.
Phillips wasn’t having that and he threw caution to the wind and smashed four huge sixes before he was dropped by David Wiese as he went for an acrobatic boundary effort.
Phillips moved to 53 from just 21 balls with his fifth maximum as he singlehandedly kept his team in with a chance of victory. Spirit’s Ravi Bopara also dropped Leus du Plooy off his own bowling
Fire needed 53 from the final 40 balls, but Phillips went when he was caught smartly by Mason Crane looking for yet another six. Crane then got Du Plooy lbw as the batter’s review failed.
Bopara caught Higgins in effortless fashion just a delivery after the ball had sailed over his head for six as the game went down to the wire.
Cracknell dripped a skier from Cobb and held his head in his hands, but Critchley went without scoring. Cobb (28 not out) nonetheless sliced Jade Dernbach for four which was a crucial moment.
Seven were required from the final five balls bowled by Wheal, but Ahmad scored back-to-back boundaries through backward point to win a thrilling game.
London Spirit captain Eoin Morgan said: “I actually thought we played well for the majority of the game. We batted really well up at the top of the order and Adam Rossington and Josh Inglis gave us a good platform. I thought we had a really good score on a reasonable wicket and we started extremely well with the ball. But the way Glenn Phillips played was of a high-class international standard. It was the difference in the game and gave the game a shift in momentum. Winning is a habit and when you are winning and you get to the crucial moments, you nail them. We haven’t done that.”
Welsh Fire’s Glenn Phillips, who was hero of the match for his 80 from 35 balls, said: “I think because it was a chasing knock that was up there with one of my best even though it would have been nice for me to finish the job. Me and Ben Duckett spoke about hitting strong shots and having a simple game plan. When you are in a position where you feel like you are only going to lose, you go for broke and we managed to keep it going even though I got out. We knew we were out of the competition before this game, but we are still entertainers and we want to perform for the crowd. I thought we gave the biggest home crowd we’ve had so far a big performance.”
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