Report: London Spirit v Birmingham Phoenix Men
Matthew Wade’s 81 proved bittersweet for Birmingham Phoenix as they beat London Spirit by one-wicket in a last-ball thriller at Lord’s but still bowed out of the 2022 Hundred.
The Australian wicketkeeper-bat thrashed two sixes and 11 fours in 42 balls to lead his side to an unlikely victory, but their failure to win in 73 balls meant their net run rate wasn’t sufficient to take them to Friday’s playoff game at The Ageas Bowl.
Earlier, Ravi Bopara’s 45 from 19 balls propelled Spirit to 139-6 despite four for 17 for Tom Helm on his home ground. Liam Dawson’s three for 15 and four for 24 from Mason Crane appeared to have Spirit in control especially when Bopara caught Wade off the leg-spinner with 22 needed, but Tanveer Sangha and Helm got Phoenix over the line.
Consolation for Spirt is despite defeat they will contest the playoff on Friday against the winners of tomorrow’s clash between Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals.
Spirit needing to win to go straight to the final as group winners found runs hard to come by for much of their innings. Zak Crawley, back from Test duty with England led a charmed life, successfully reviewing after being given out caught behind on nought and surviving again when Sangha bowled him off a no-ball. However, his luck run out when the impressive Helm pinned him lbw for 20.
Helm had already bowled Adam Rossington for six and conceded just three singles from his opening 15 balls as the hosts struggled for any momentum.
McDermott briefly threatened to break the shackles, hitting Moeen Ali for the day’s first six, only to then hit the off-spinner straight to cover and when Eoin Morgan went cheaply Spirit were 74-4 with 28 balls left.
However, Bopara changed the momentum, slog sweeping successive sixes off Benny Howell as 21 came from one set of five. The former England all-rounder hit five sixes in all before Helm had him caught on the fence in the final set of the innings.
Needing to win in 73 balls or less to have a chance of making the playoffs Phoenix made the worst possible start when debutant Sol Budinger, deputising for the injured Liam Livingstone, lofted Liam Dawson’s second ball to Crawley in the deep.
And Dawson made it a dream start for the hosts when he castled the dangerous Will Smeed later in that set.
Ali and Matthew Wade led a counter-attack with a flurry of boundaries, yet the rate required rose and the former succumbed when hitting Jordan Thompson into the hands of mid-on. Dawson then returned immediately after the powerplay to remove Chris Benjamin for a duck.
Wade though continued to swing, majestically sending a Nathan Ellis delivery into the Tavern’s top tier, but still the rate required rose. The Australian was dropped by Ellis off Brad Wheal on 44 and celebrated with six to go to 50 in 24 balls.
When he finally holed out Spirit were favourites, but Sangha and Helm produced a last twist in a great advert for the format.