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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Chris Benjamin’s 37* seals Phoenix win after Moeen Ali, Will Smeed contributions


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Hosts join Hundred front runners with six-wicket victory over Invincibles in Edgbaston run-fest

Birmingham Phoenix 174 for 4 (Ali 49, Smeed 45, Benjamin 37 *) beat Oval Invincibles 172 for 3 (Ingram 81*) by six wickets

Birmingham Phoenix jumped right among the Hundred front runners with a thrilling six-wicket victory over Oval Invincibles in a runfest at Edgbaston.

A powerhouse innings from Colin Ingram – 81 from 43 balls – lifted the Invincibles to 172 for 3 – the second-highest total in the Hundred.

The 36-year-old built on a fast start from Jason Roy (38, 22 balls) and hit eight fours and four sixes, many coming in a third-wicket stand of 72 in 39 balls with captain Sam Billings (24, 17 balls).

But the Phoenix reeled in the tall target, reaching 174 for 4 with six balls to spare thanks to Moeen Ali‘s 49 off 26 balls, Will Smeed‘s 45 from 28 and a dazzling cameo by Chris Benjamin, whose unbeaten 37 from 16 balls tilted a knife-edge contest his side’s way.

After choosing to bowl, the Phoenix started well with Adam Milne and Imran Tahir each conceding just a single from their first over. The Invincibles then hit their stride, though, Roy batting with characteristic power, hitting five fours and a six before he was bowled by a slower ball from Benny Howell.

Ingram and Billings accelerated in a violent partnership which ended when the latter lifted Pat Brown to long off where Howell took a fine catch. Ingram cleared the ropes in each of the last two overs to provide late impetus and round off a perfectly paced innings from the South African.

Finn Allen’s 23 off 13 balls gave the Phoenix reply a fiery start with five fours in eight balls but he fell in strange fashion when he played back to Sunil Narine’s first ball and trod on his wicket.

Liam Livingstone heaved one huge six but was denied another when Laurie Evans took a stinging catch on the mid-wicket rope to give Tabraiz Shamsi his first wicket.

Sneed stepped it up after a watchful start but skied Saqib Mahmood to extra cover. With such a big target, the pressure on the Phoenix batters was high but Ali responded with a furious attack which included successive sixes off Tom Curran. The skipper was within one run of a half-century when Curran got his revenge, taking a superb catch at deep mid-wicket.

That left the Phoenix needing 34 from 25 balls. Benjamin got to grips with the task straight away, trimming the target to ten fom ten and then striking the winning four to continue his fairy-tale rise.

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