Oval Invincibles 119 (Whiteley 35, Richardson 4-32) were defeated by Birmingham Phoenix 160 for 8 (Smith 60, Moeen 33, Chappell 4-33) by 41 runs.
At Edgbaston, the Birmingham Phoenix upset the Men’s Hundred standings by thrashing the league’s top team, the Oval Invincibles, by 41 runs.
Phoenix needed to win tonight in order to remain in the competition, and they reacted with a significantly improved performance, helped by the availability of England great Chris Woakes, who made his long-awaited debut.
Following Jamie Smith’s outstanding 60 off 33 balls, which helped Phoenix out of some early difficulties, they scored 160 for 8. Woakes and Adam Milne, their new-ball duo, then got off to a superb start, limiting the Invincibles to 12 for one after 20 balls.
The guests never fully recovered. A further blow was the loss of hitter Jordan Cox, who retired ill and in great discomfort after being struck on the hand by a rising ball from Milne. They managed 119 points to suffer their first loss of the season.
Phoenix was put in, and they initially stumbled in a predictable way as Will Smeed chipped Zak Chappell to extra cover, Ben Duckett skied a slog-sweep at Nathan Sowter, Liam Livingstone dragged Sowter to long leg, and Heinrich Klaasen made a challenging catch seem simple.
Smith gave it a lift by scoring 20 runs off four balls from Sunil Narine and Sowter.
The batting was in trouble at 44 for 3 from 35 balls, but Smith gave it a boost by blasting 20 from four balls from Sowter and Sunil Narine. Before Moeen AIi attempted an overconfident bye to wicketkeeper Sam Billings and was out by the direct hit, Smith and AIi rebuilt the innings with a stand of 75 in 46 balls.
Moeen Ali makes an over-the-point cut.
Smith threw Chappell into Jason Roy’s hands at long range, but Dan Mousley, Chris Benjamin, and Milne all cut the ropes to make sure they had a difficult target. Woakes’ return to Edgbaston with the bat was less successful after he lofted Chappell’s opening delivery to deep mid-wicket to become the final victim of his 4 for 33.
However, Woakes is very brilliant with the bat, giving up just three runs in his opening set when the Invincibles retaliated. The next ball was a strike from Milne, which Will Jacks edged to slip. The Kiwi then caused damage with his sixth ball, which rose into Cox’s palm and ejected him off the field.
The visitors were 21 for 2 from 25 balls as Woakes successfully caught Klaasen at slip, with another batsman down and obviously in too much discomfort to continue. When Chris Benjamin, who was only keeping because Smith was off the field after picking up an injury while batting, feathered a reverse sweep at Benny Howell’s second ball, the ball bounced off Benjamin’s grille and down into his gloves. This provided further proof that this was Phoenix’s night.
The middle and lower order struggled against a Phoenix team that will face the Southern Brave in Southampton on Wednesday with confidence fully restored. Only a flailing miracle might keep the Invincibles’ undefeated streak intact.
Tanveer Sangha will take Shadab Khan’s position for the remainder of the competition after Shadab Khan left for international duty due to sickness.
When the Invincibles play the London Spirit on Tuesday, they have a high-caliber replacement in Adam Zampa and are hopeful that Gus Atkinson and Tom Curran will recover from shoulder niggles, as this was Narine’s final game of the season for the Invincibles.
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