Shafali storm hits The Hundred as Birmingham Phoenix thump Welsh Fire

Shajin Mohanan S
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Shafali storm hits The Hundred as Birmingham Phoenix thump Welsh Fire

Shafali Verma © Getty Images

Shafali storm finally hit The Hundred as the destructive Shafali Verma dismantled the Welsh Fire bowlers in a hyper aggressive chase in the company of Evelyn Jones to take Birmingham Phoenix home with a thumping win against the visitors in Birmingham on Monday (August 9).

Chasing 128 to win, Verma – who didn’t have a good tournament so far – was on top gear from the start. She started with a heave to the leg-side for a couple before launching Bryony Smith over long-on for a six and a slog sweep for a four all in the space of four balls into the chase. She took on Hayley Matthews in the final set of the power play to hit the off-spinner for 14 runs including her second six. Phoenix were 47 – the highest power play score of the competition so far – at the end of the power play with Verma batting on 37 from 17 balls.

From there, Verma never stopped and with a couple of boundaries against Hannah Baker brought up her maiden fifty of the format from just 22 balls. She continued on her ways and took the team score to 86 in 46 balls when she hit Smith through fine-leg for another four. Rain arrived at this moment and the umpires took the players off for a small delay.

Nothing could prevent Verma onslaught on the day and the players were back out there after the six minutes rain break. The 17-year-old added another boundary off Smith in the same set and at that moment Evelyn decided to join the fun as she smashed Piepa Cleary for consecutive boundaries to take the partnership over the three-figure mark – yet another first in the tournament.

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Once in her elements, Evelyn upped the stakes and hit a flurry of boundaries after playing second fiddle to Verma for most part of the innings. The left-hander lofted Georgia Hennessy over extra-cover as she went past her fifty from 32 balls.

Eventually, Verma finished the match in style as she swatted Matthews through mid-wicket for another four as Phoenix romped home with all the wickets in the shed and 24 balls to spare.

Put into bat, Welsh Fire got out of the blocks quickly, starting with Smith putting away a long-hop from Erin Burns in the first ball of the match. Smith found three more boundaries in the first 20 balls before Matthews joined the party with some of her trademark shots. Matthews drilled Kirstie Gordon through point for four before launching one over the bowler to take Fire to 36 without any loss at the end of the power play.

However, Phoenix pulled it back immediately post the power play with Matthews picking out Emily Arlott at mid-off of the bowling off Abtaha Maqsood for 13. In what was a fruitful phase for the home side, they gave only 18 runs in 20 balls before Smith launched Maqsood over long-on for a huge six.

Just when it looked it like Smith and Georgia Redmayne are upping the ante, Fire lost Smith in the form of a run out for 38 thanks to yet another miscommunication with Redmayne. Soon they lost the southpaw as well when she hit one straight back to Burns and the off-spinner held onto a smart catch.

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Although Sarah Taylor looked good in her brief stay, a brilliant stumping from Amy Jones accounted for her after Arlott trapped Sophie Luff in front of the wicket. Post Taylor’s dismissal, Fire suffered had yet another collapse – the one similar to their last match against Trent Rockets – and went from 106 for four to 120 for nine at the end of the penultimate set before finishing on 127 for nine from the stipulated 100 balls.

For Phoenix, Gordon took two wickets for 30 runs while four other bowlers took one wicket apiece.

Brief Scores: Welsh Fire 12 in 100 balls (Bryony Smith 38; Kirstie Gordon 2/30 ) lost to Birmingham Phoenix 131/0 in 76 balls (Shafali Verma 76*, Evelyn Jones 52*) by 10 wickets POTM: Shafali Verma