The Hundred continues on Monday evening when we head back to Edgbaston for the match between the Birmingham Phoenix and the Trent Rockets in what is the second meeting between the two teams this season.
The Trent Rockets won their opening match at Trent Bridge last week so the Phoenix will be out for revenge and will hope to use home advantage in their favour. The Rockets are undefeated this season though and will fancy their chances in this one.
After losing their opening game to the Trent Rockets, the Birmingham Phoenix have won their last two matches. They were emphatic winners over the Southern Brave, although that victory doesn’t look quite as good as it did at the time, and then edged out the Welsh Fire in a match where they didn’t play at all well but found a way to win. They will know they have to play much better to come out on top in this match but we saw against the Brave that they have that in them.
Birmingham are a decent outfit at home and they have a lot of options whether it is with the bat or with the ball. They have a really deep batting unit that has more power than any other unit in the competition and because two of those batters are reliable bowlers they have a wealth of bowling resources as well. In the last two wins Henry Brookes and Kane Richardson have come up trumps for them but you would imagine the longer the tournament goes on the more likely Moeen Ali and Imran Tahir will come to the party.
The Trent Rockets have been in excellent form so far this season. They have won their opening three matches and they have had a fair bit to spare in most of them. The question comes when they are asked to set up a game by batting first, not only when posting a score but also defending that score as they have only bowled first in the competition so far. They were smoked to all parts in the last game when bowling first but a masterclass from Dawid Malan got them home.
He has been in excellent form for the Rockets and that is another issue of concern. While he’s in great form nobody can go eight matches without a failure somewhere along the line and the Trent Bridge outfit have been so dominant that outside of their top four hardly anyone has seen the crease and that is always a problem. It means that players who they might need to get them out of a hole haven’t been at the crease competitively for more than two weeks which isn’t good.
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In order to expose that potential weakness in the middle order for the Trent Rockets the four overs of canny bowling of Benny Howell will be key here. As well as that he can still bat well as we saw in the previous match.
How long can the form of Dawid Malan last? If it can last another match then the Trent Rockets will be in a good place to complete the double over their supposed rivals. He has made 88* and 98* in the last two wins and looks in great touch.
Edgbaston is something of a fortress for the Birmingham Phoenix and I think they can use that home advantage to their favour here. They have played five matches in The Hundred on this ground and they have won the whole lot and nobody has really got close to them in that time. They have the options in their attack that can allow them to take advantage of whatever of the wicket has to offer and then the boundaries aren’t remotely big enough to contain their batters.
I’ve highlighted the concerns I have for the Trent Rockets above, notably that only their top four have really seen the crease and another concern I have is that their bowling can go round the park as we saw at Old Trafford on Saturday. This Birmingham batting unit looks to be the ideal one to get after it as well. Birmingham beat the Rockets twice last season and although Trent Rockets got a win in the reverse fixture this term, I think the Phoenix needed to come on for the run. They look to have their combinations in the right place and won last time out with Moeen Ali and Imran Tahir bowling five balls between them and Will Smeed, Liam Livingstone and Moeen scoring 14 runs between them. That is significant because I don’t think those players will cumulatively miss out very often so I like the Phoenix to pick up another win here.
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