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28th Match (N), Cardiff, August 20, 2023, The Hundred Men's Competition
(93/100 balls, T:110) 110/4

Fire won by 6 wickets (with 7 balls remaining)

Player Of The Match
, WF-M
37* (26) & 2 catches

Welsh Fire quash London Spirit to keep top three hopes burning

Home pace attack sets up important win on seamers' paradise at Sophia Gardens

David Payne claimed two wickets as Welsh Fire restricted London Spirit  •  Getty Images

David Payne claimed two wickets as Welsh Fire restricted London Spirit  •  Getty Images

Welsh Fire 110 for 4 (Bairstow 41, Worrall 3-24) beat London Spirit 109 for 9 (Dawson 24, Henry 2-15)
Welsh Fire's seamers set them on the path to a victory which keeps their top three hopes alive, with Jonny Bairstow top scoring as they chased down 110.
Captain Tom Abell and Glenn Phillips finished the match with a partnership of 41 off 24 balls, after the platform had been set by the seam bowlers who took 8-65 between them.
New Zealand pair Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson impressed in their first game while David Willey and David Payne also took advantage of a seam-friendly wicket, all taking two wickets each. London Spirit had Ravi Bopara to thank for getting them to three figures after an early batting collapse, while Dan Worrall took three early wickets to give them hope in the field.
The result sees the two teams swap places in the table between fifth and sixth, while Welsh Fire are level on points with third place, but behind on net run rate.
Welsh Fire had lost Pakistan pair Shaheen Shah Afridi and Harris Rauf as they returned to international duty, but Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson flew in from New Zealand as quality replacements. The new-look bowling attack was soon unleashed after London Spirit captain Dan Lawrence won the toss and elected to bat.
The tone was set by David Willey who did not concede a run in his opening five balls to Zak Crawley. He did not have to wait long to add a wicket, returning for the third set and dismissing Crawley, caught behind by Joe Clarke via bat and pad.
Henry was proving equally effective as his bounce saw the end of Lawrence second ball, caught in the covers by Tom Abell, soon followed by Australian Matthew Wade caught behind trying to scoop Willey.
In-form Adam Rossington had been watching the carnage from the other end, but he fell trying to hit Henry out of the ground, a top edge well taken by Abel running back. Willey and Henry bowled all the first 30 balls between them and the Spirit score at that stage was just 21 for 4.
Daryl Mitchell and Ravi Bopara started rebuilding, but could only amass 42 at the half way stage. Then Mitchell went to David Payne, Willey taking the boundary catch from a short ball. Matt Critchley's breezy 21 came to an end when he skied an attempted pull from Ferguson, Glenn Phillips taking the catch.
The run rate was always slow, it was only the 92nd ball that the runs equalled the balls bowled for the first time. Ravi Bopara played responsibly, finishing 24 not out off 20, while Liam Dawson's 24 was a useful contribution as well as Spirit crept up to 109 for 9.
The bowling figures were impressive, Willey, Henry, Ferguson and Payne all getting two wickets each, with Henry, Willey and Payne all conceding less than a run a ball.
Any possible complacency in the Welsh Fire line-up would soon have been dispelled by Spirit opening bowler Dan Worrall, whose away swing with the new ball proved hard to play. Steve Eskinazi went on the attack and skied the ball, while Joe Clarke and Luke Wells both were caught behind misjudging the swing.
Worrall bowled 20 of the first 25 balls, Bairstow hitting a couple of fours to leave the Australian's final figures as 3 for 24. Bairstow and Tom Abell put on fifty before Barstow was bowled for 41 going for a big swipe off Liam Dawson.
Abell survived to see it through, given good support by Phillips, the pair taking 15 from a Daryl Mitchell set of five balls to settle nerves in the final section of the innings. Phillips finished it with a straight six off Nathan Ellis. Abell finished on 37 and Phillips on 21.

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