The bottom two in The Hundred do battle in the competition on Monday evening when the Welsh Fire take on the Southern Brave for the second time this term. This time the two teams meet at Sophia Gardens with pride and potentially the wooden spoon on the line.
These two teams have had terrible campaigns to date, so much so that all that is on this one really is to begin to look towards next season and see if they can find some combinations and some form to take into it.
If last season was poor for the Welsh Fire this one has been absolutely terrible. They have lost all four matches they have played and in three of them they haven’t been in the same contest as their opposition. They should have beaten the Birmingham Phoenix in the middle of that run but faltered at the winning post which is the immediate sign of a team who have forgotten how to win. It will be interesting to see if now that there is no pressure on these matches if they can claw themselves over the line.
The real problem the Fire have in this match is they haven’t been much use with either the bat or the ball. Sometimes you get a team who are out of form but they can pinpoint one area where they are letting themselves down and improve on it but that isn’t the case with the Fire. Their batting hasn’t fired at any stage this season and that has put pressure on their bowlers and they haven’t been able to handle it. It is a double edged sword so any improvement will be welcomed.
When you consider how confidently, strongly and ruthlessly the Southern Brave powered their way to the title last season, to see their campaign over after just five matches this time around is something of a surprise although it isn’t all down to their poor play. In fact, it isn’t really down to that at all. It is down to having a number of bowlers all injured at the same time which has left them so stretched the elastic was always going to snap eventually.
As it turns out they haven’t played that well. Other than James Vince’s innings against this opponent on the opening night of the tournament, the Southern Brave have struggled with the bat. That is down to players coming into the season in poor form and that has continued throughout the campaign. Big players like Quinton de Kock and Tim David haven’t impacted a game how the Brave needed them to and they have been left vulnerable as a result.
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Tom Banton has the highest score for the Welsh Fire this season. The fact it is only 44 shows everything that is wrong with the Fire batting but if he can come alive at the top of the order and put pressure on the bowlers the Fire could be rewarded.
Paul Stirling joins up with the Southern Brave for this match as a replacement for Marcus Stoinis and given that there aren’t many Brave batters in form they could do with the Ireland international bringing something to the party with him.
Four matches into the tournament and the Welsh Fire are yet to score more than 126 with the bat. Even an average bowling side like Manchester Originals bowled them out for 102 so I’m not expecting a high scoring match here. That might sound a bit daft when we consider that the Southern Brave are struggling for bowlers but they have had Beuran Hendricks in their camp for a while now and he has been on fire for Leicestershire in recent times. Although the Fire haven’t scored many runs, they have only actually conceded more than 150 in one of their four matches so there is no guarantee that the Southern Brave will pile up the runs anyway, especially with them having to rework their batting order in the absence of Marcus Stoinis. I mentioned in the last match that none of the key Brave batters are in form and they were skittled for 120 with a top score of 25. When you put it all together 298.5 looks too high for a run line here.
Given that the Fire are struggling for runs this season there has to be a fair bit of value in Dwaine Pretorius top scoring for the home side in this one. There clearly is value because he did it in the previous match and although you would expect someone in the top order to get in and score for the Welsh Fire, they have only had one batter score more than 40 in an innings. In the reverse fixture Ben Duckett scored 40 and the next highest score was 11 so if the Brave can get rid of the Nottinghamshire man early it might be that the South African gets a reasonable chance to top score for a second straight match at a daft price of 40/1.
Back Under 298.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Betway
Back D.Pretorius Top Welsh Fire Batter for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with BetVictor
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