Birmingham Phoenix completely turned the tables in the Men’s Hundred, crushing the league leaders Oval Invincibles by a decisive 41-run victory at Edgbaston.
Without a win in the tournament up until this match, Phoenix needed a victory to keep their hopes alive in the competition. They responded with a significantly improved performance, aided by the debut of England star Chris Woakes.
Phoenix managed to post 160 for 8, thanks to a stellar 60 off 33 balls from Jamie Smith, which pulled them out of an early crisis. The opening bowling pair of Woakes and Adam Milne delivered brilliantly, keeping Invincibles to a mere 12 for one in the initial 20 balls.
Unfortunately for the visitors, they never managed to recover from this early setback. They struggled to reach 119 runs, enduring their first defeat of the campaign. Adding to their troubles, a rising ball from Milne struck batter Jordan Cox on the hand, forcing him to retire hurt.
Phoenix initially faced familiar struggles as they were put into bat. Will Smeed chipped one to extra cover, Ben Duckett skied a slog-sweep, and Liam Livingstone pulled one to long leg, where Heinrich Klaasen made a difficult catch look easy. With the score at 44 for 3 from 35 balls, the innings was in jeopardy, but Jamie Smith’s powerful hitting changed the game. He smashed 20 runs from four balls, and a partnership of 75 runs in 46 balls with Moeen Ali helped rebuild the innings. However, an optimistic bye led to Ali’s run-out, while Smith fell, and other players such as Dan Mousley, Chris Benjamin, and Milne provided crucial runs to establish a challenging target.
Woakes Shines with the Ball
Woakes’ return to Edgbaston with the bat was less successful, as he fell victim to Zak Chappell, leaving him with 4 for 33. Despite this, Woakes performed exceptionally well with the ball, conceding just three runs in his initial set when Invincibles began their reply. Milne, too, made an immediate impact, taking a wicket with his very first ball, and later, a rising delivery forced Will Jacks to edge to slip. Cox was forced off the field due to the impact of a delivery, adding to Invincibles’ struggles.
With Klaasen caught at slip by Woakes, Invincibles found themselves at 21 for 2 from 25 balls, and the match was undoubtedly slipping away. Phoenix’s dominance was further evident when Jason Roy’s reverse sweep found its way to wicketkeeper Chris Benjamin’s grille, bouncing down into his gloves. Only a miracle could have saved Invincibles’ unbeaten record, but their middle and lower order failed to make a significant impact against a resurgent Phoenix side.
For Invincibles, this was Narine’s final game of the season, but they have a high-quality replacement in Adam Zampa. Additionally, they are hopeful that Gus Atkinson and Tom Curran will return from shoulder niggles when they face London Spirit on Tuesday.