Phoenix eliminated as Rockets keep title defence alive

Spinners, Sams strangle middle order as Phoenix run chase falls flat

ECB Reporters Network

19-Aug-2023 • 10 hrs ago

Matt Carter and Ish Sodhi squeezed Birmingham Phoenix  •  ECB/Getty Images

Trent Rockets 162 for 6 (Munro 34, Hain 30) beat Birmingham Phoenix 116 for 9 (Smith 38, Sams 3-17) by 46 runs

Trent Rockets boost their own title defence and eliminated Birmingham Phoenix, thumping them by 46 runs in the final Hundred Men’s match of the season at Trent Bridge, watched by a record crowd of 15,551.

Offspinner Matt Carter (2 for 15) and Australia allrounder Daniel Sams (3 for 17) stood out with the ball as Phoenix could muster only 116 for 9 despite 38 off 22 balls from Jamie Smith in response to Rockets’ 162 for 6, to which Colin Munro (34 off 17), Sam Hain (30 off 21) and Alex Hales (27 off 14) were the key contributors.

The result puts Rockets on seven points, level with Southern Brave and Manchester Originals behind leaders Oval Invincibles on nine but having played a game more. Brave play Invincibles later on Saturday before they face off against Originals in Manchester next Wednesday – after Rockets wrap up away to Invincibles on Monday.

Asked to bat first, Rockets would have been pleased to put 36 runs on the board from the opening 25 balls albeit for the loss of two big batting forces in Hales and Joe Root – again opening with Dawid Malan relegated to the bench.

Hales at least got a start after an indifferent tournament by his own standards, but after a positive if streaky 27 off 14 balls, he dragged a Kane Richardson slower ball on to his stumps, after which Root perished to a steepling top-edge taken by the bowler as he tried to propel Adam Milne (2 for 24 from 20) over midwicket.

Tom Kohler-Cadmore holed out to long-on as Rockets reached the halfway point at 72 for 3. Munro, looking for his second half-century of the competition, cleared the ropes off Tanveer Sangha, Moeen Ali and Benny Howell. But Rockets suffered a double setback with Hain and then Munro gone in the space of nine balls, Hain caught on the deep point boundary as he went to uppercut Milne before Munro miscued Howell to widish cover.

Yet Sams, Lewis Gregory and Luke Wood maintained Rockets’ momentum as the last 30 balls added 53, Sams picking out Will Smeed at deep midwicket after a valuable 20 off 12 balls to finish their home programme with their second highest total at Trent Bridge this year.

Phoenix have been looking to Smeed to fire with the bat all through the tournament but they were frustrated again as Luke Wood’s second set saw him and opening partner Ben Duckett depart. Smeed was brilliantly run out by ‘keeper Kohler-Cadmore’s direct hit to the non-striker’s end before Duckett tried to ramp his former Nottinghamshire team-mate and found a current one lurking at short fine leg in Carter.

Jamie Smith muscles one over midwicketECB/Getty Images

Smith hit back with 20 off Wood’s third set, including two stand-and-deliver sixes over the leg side, as Phoenix came out of the powerplay with their noses in front at 41 for 2.

By halfway, though, the home side had hauled back the advantage, albeit marginal as Liam Livingstone sliced legspinner Ish Sodhi to short third to leave Phoenix 66 for 3, needing 97 more. They held a definite edge, though, when Smith fell to Carter in the next set, given out leg before on the field and upheld on review after the ball squeezed past his bat to hit him on the toe.

Phoenix should have been five down in the next set, but Sams, having got his hands on the ball at deep midwicket as Moeen flicked into the leg side, could not hold it as he landed. No matter – Root held on to a sensational effort as Moeen went to pull Sams in the next set before the excellent Carter bowled Chris Benjamin for two for 15 from his 20 as the visitors stumbled to 90 for six, needing 73 from 26.

Howell hit Sams to cover, Sam Cook bowled Milne and Sams took his third when, after a prolonged review, Richardson was given out caught at midwicket.

Matthew CarterDaniel SamsJamie SmithColin MunroBirmingham Phoenix (Men)Trent Rockets (Men)Rockets vs PhoenixThe Hundred Men’s Competition

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