There are five matches left in the first phase of The Hundred and each of them have the potential to be extremely important. The first of those comes along on Sunday evening when the Birmingham Phoenix play host to the Manchester Originals at Edgbaston.
The Phoenix begin the evening in fourth place in the table but a fair sized win will see them move to the top of it. The Originals are a couple of points behind their opponents here and know if they are to keep their tournament alive they have to win this match.
The Birmingham Phoenix saw their undefeated home record blown up in smoke in their last match at Edgbaston so they will be keen to return to winning ways here. A win here would leave them in with a chance of winning their final match and skipping the eliminator and heading straight to the showpiece final on Saturday. They won’t be eliminated with a win but direct entry into the final might become a pipedream with a loss here.
The Phoenix have got their tournament back on track since they lost to the Northern Superchargers. They beat Oval Invincibles in what was a good all-round performance from Moeen Ali’s men and they will be out to do likewise here. There is a good chance that qualifying spots in this table could come down to net run rate so expect the Phoenix to look to get the match won early if they chase a score and set it up well.
There was a lot of hope and optimism around the Manchester Phoenix at the beginning of the tournament but their balloon was soon burst with three defeats in their opening three matches. At that stage this looked like being another disappointing campaign for the Old Trafford outfit, but to their credit they have rebounded with three emphatic victories and know that if they can win their last two matches there is every chance they will still be involved in the tournament beyond the group stage.
The squad depth of the Originals will be tested now. Jos Buttler has been ruled out of the remainder of the competition and Andre Russell has now left for the CPL and they are two huge players. Even without Buttler the batting for Manchester has yielded a number of runs all season. If they are going to make it through to the finals then they are going to have to make sure they keep hitting their straps with the ball.
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Moeen Ali hasn’t shirked the challenge in this tournament and with Manchester Originals having a couple of batters who like to get on with it at the top of the order he might give himself the new ball. He’s hitting it as well as anyone in the competition as well.
Phil Salt has been in excellent form for the Manchester Originals this season and if they are to have any chance in this match without Buttler and Russell the Lancashire keeper-batter has to get them off to a good start.
All three matches at Edgbaston this season have had more than 13.5 sixes in them and so I’m a little surprised that the line is notched at that number for this one because Manchester Originals are probably the highest scoring team in the tournament even without Jos Buttler. They’ll be without Andre Russell here as well but they still have the likes of Phil Salt, Laurie Evans, Tristan Stubbs and Paul Walter who can smack sixes as well as others. Obviously Birmingham have Will Smeed, Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone who smoke sixes.
There has been a short boundary in the three matches at Edgbaston to date and given the amount of cricket this square has had this summer you would imagine we’ll be on the fringes of the square for this match as well. Even though all three matches have had more than 13.5 sixes, we’ve only had one match where both teams have scored 150 in it so we don’t need the highest scoring game for this line to cover. I’ll take the over in what should be another entertaining game.
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