Home side canter to victory as Eve Jones also makes unbeaten half-century
Birmingham Phoenix 131 for 0 (Verma 76*, E Jones 52*) beat Welsh Fire 127 for 9 (Smith 38, Gordon 2-30) by ten wickets
Bryony Smith led from the front for Fire after Phoenix had chosen to bowl, registering her competition best score with 38 from 36 balls, including five fours and a six over wide long-on off Abtaha Maqsood, but Fire’s next best score was 19 and their 127 for for 9 always looked a little under-par on a good pitch, the result leaving them level on four points with Phoenix going into the last two fixtures.
Smith might have made more but was run out after a mix-up with Georgia Redmayne, who declined a single to point off Emily Arlott, leaving Smith stranded halfway down the pitch as Phoebe Franklin threw in to the bowler’s end.
Then again, she was dropped on 4 as Erin Burns shelled a low return catch.
Otherwise, Fire’s effort with the bat was disappointing. Batting trump card Hayley Matthews, averaging 45.75 going in, mistimed to mid-off for 13, Redmayne offered a return catch that Burns did hold for 17, and skipper Sophie Luff was lbw on review for 7, sparking a disappointing end to the innings that saw the last seven wickets fall for 33.
These included a brilliant piece of work by Phoenix captain and wicketkeeper Amy Jones to stump Sarah Taylor off an Eve Jones full toss that just about dipped below waist height and three wickets in four deliveries in Kirstie Gordon’s last set of five.
Phoenix raced to 47 from the 25-ball Powerplay, of which Verma hit 37, taking 12 off Smith’s opening over including a six to midwicket, and finishing with four-four-six in consecutive balls off Matthews’s offspin. After that, the opening pair never took their foot off the pedal.
Verma passed fifty off 22 balls and thereafter was content to play second fiddle to Eve Jones, with completed her half-century from 30 balls with her ninth boundary. Verma should have been run out on 70 when trying to get her partner on strike but that was her only mistake and it was only a few balls later that she walloped her ninth boundary over midwicket to seal victory with time to spare.