Captain’s classy 60 sets up nervy chase as Brave enjoy home comforts against Phoenix
Southern Brave 152 for 6 (Vince 60, Milne 3-15) beat Birmingham Phoenix 151 for 3 (Livingstone 68*, Hammond 44*) by four wickets
Jordan struck a vital boundary off Helm and Milne produced a late blip by delivering a wide and a no-ball in his final set, bringing the equation down to single figures. With Phoenix failing to bowl the 95th ball before the cut-off, they were made to bring an extra fielder up inside the ring – and their poor timekeeping was to prove costly, as Jordan thrashed Helm into the newly-created gap at deep square leg, before a wide and a dropped catch by Benny Howell at deep midwicket was followed by another wide as Jordan scrambled Brave over the line.
Despite a much-vaunted pace attack for this competition, Brave have struggled to make an impact with the ball. Missing Jofra Archer as he continues his comeback from injury, Mills and Jordan had taken one wicket between them in Brave’s first two games; and their only wicket in the Powerplay was George Garton’s dismissal of Alex Hales at the start of Trent Rockets’ low-pressure chase of 127.
The left-arm wristspinner, a Blast wildcard pick after his success for Birmingham Bears, claimed a wicket with his first 100-ball delivery in Cardiff earlier in the week, but was then collared by Ben Duckett. On a bigger ground, he had greater protection to toss it up, and this time he struck twice in four balls – Finn Allen stumped coming down the pitch, Moeen Ali bowled while slog-sweeping – for impressive figures of 2 for 3 from his opening ten.
Livingstone, we presume
That Livingstone would prove to be the headline act for Phoenix sooner or later was no surprise, coming just a couple of weeks after he had blitzed an England record 42-ball T20I hundred. But despite a few trademark towering blows into the stands, this was an innings that was more perspiration than inspiration.
Livingstone was reprieved on 12, when replays showed de Grandhomme had overstepped after a big top edge had settled in the hands of mid-off, and although the next ball was dumped over the ropes, he only managed to find the boundary once from his next 23 balls. He moved into the 40s with a thick top edge over the keeper, crashed Mills into the crowd next ball and then brought up his half-century with another slice over short third man.
Taking the pressure off during the middle of the innings was Hammond, moved down after the first two matches to fill an unfamiliar middle-order berth. From 6 off 9 he looked increasingly fluent and briefly overtook Livingstone to be 41 off 25 – but only ended up facing four of the last 15 deliveries. He said afterwards his strategy was to “get down the other end” and let his partner go to work, but Livingstone’s struggle for timing continued right to the end.
The women’s match earlier in the day had produced a cakewalk of a chase for the home side, Danni Wyatt’s fireworks seeing to a target of 141 with 18 balls to spare; consequently, both Vince and Moeen Ali had been keen to bowl first at the toss. Vince got his way and made the early running in Brave’s chase. In fact, he did all the early everything – during the time he was out in the middle, he scored 60 out of 82 and all nine of his side’s boundaries.
He began in circumspect fashion against Milne’s extra pace in the Powerplay, but climbed into Helm, taking his first five for three fours and a six. Howell’s second ball was lofted for a regal six over deep extra cover, while four more boundaries came from the spin of Moeen and Livingstone. But with Conway dealing almost exclusively in singles, the pressure on Brave’s captain increased – and when he top-edged a sweep off Moeen to short fine leg, they were left needing 70 off 42.
It looked beyond them until Jordan joined his captain in making a stand, as Brave’s men matched the women by pulling off the highest chase in their side of the tournament.
Birmingham Phoenix (Men)
Southern Brave (Men)
Phoenix vs Brave
The Hundred Men’s Competition
Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
Source: ESPN Crickinfo