Birmingham Phoenix 148 for 3 (Moeen 52, Livingstone 51*, Wood 3-16) beat Trent Rockets 145 for 6 (Sams 55*, Gregory 35*, Howell 3-28) by seven wickets
Alex Hales and Dawid Malan’s last two opening partnerships were worth 86 off 58 balls and 85 off 38, but on Monday night they were both out within the first eight balls of the Rockets’ innings. Having seen them tuck into the seamers against Northern Superchargers and Manchester Originals, Moeen went for spin early on, taking the new ball himself despite a short leg-side boundary for Hales to attack.
Hales targeted the short side but top-edged his sweep to deep midwicket and Moeen went for the jugular, giving Imran Tahir a bowl in the powerplay for the first time this season. Malan hammered his second ball over the long boundary for six, but could only skew his third to mid-off to leave Rockets 11 for 2 after eight balls. Tahir celebrated in trademark style, adding a Cristiano Ronaldo-style celebration at the end of his run.
Benny and the Jets
Howell’s ability to squeeze teams in the middle period has been unmatched across the first one-and-a-half seasons of the Hundred, and after Tom Helm had taken a brilliant catch off his own bowling to remove Colin Munro, he found himself coming on at 36 for 3 after 35 balls.
He struck with his second ball, clean-bowling Tom Kohler-Cadmore, then trapped his Gloucestershire team-mate Ian Cockbain lbw and had Samit Patel caught at short cover. His figures after 10 balls were a scarcely believable 3 for 4 as Rockets slid to 53 for 6, but took a dent as Gregory and Sams led the recovery.
Sams provides late launch
Rockets are a trademark Andy Flower short-form side, packed full of allrounders to give their bowling variety and their batting depth. As a result, their seventh-wicket pair of Gregory and Sams still had plenty of power to add, and they added an unbroken 92 off 46, the highest partnership in the men’s Hundred this season.
Sams, unquestionably the pick of the signings in June’s overseas wildcard draft, brought up a 23-ball half-century in his first Rockets innings, thumping Howell’s final two balls for six before reaching the landmark by carving Helm’s slower ball over the longest boundary in the ground. Rockets’ 145 looked competitive, but proved well short.
Moeen made a slow start, struggling for timing early in his innings on a deceptively slow pitch. “It felt ugly, horrible,” he said. “I pride myself on hitting nice shots but I had to revert to slogging a bit.” He was very late on a sharp bouncer from Wood, who swung the new ball at high pace in a stunning opening burst, and eked out 16 off his first 17.
With 80 required off 50, he decided it was time to hit the accelerator against Gregory. “It was a short [leg-side] boundary and I just fancied him a bit,” he said. “Me and Livi decided we were going to slog our way out of it.” He slashed two balls through third and clubbed two over midwicket to take 20 off the first four of the set, then sliced the fifth into the night sky.
Malan set himself underneath it at extra cover, but was blinded by the floodlights and ended up having to take evasive action after losing sight of the ball. Moeen then hoyed Patel over the rope for consecutive sixes, putting the chase beyond doubt as a chant of “Super, super Mo, super Moeen Ali” rang out.
By the time Wood cleaned him up, the required rate was only a nudge over a run a ball; Matthew Wade and Livingstone finished the job in style.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98