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  1. Cricket

The Hundred - Cricket: Birmingham Phoenix v Manchester Originals preview

The Hundred group stages are reaching their climax with the franchises looking to secure the necessary points to finish in the play-off places.

Sunday's men's fixture appears pivotal to either the Birmingham Phoenix or Manchester Originals' hopes of a top-three finish, while the women's match-up could provide the hosts with the win that could secure their post-season berth.

Make or break time

What

Birmingham Phoenix v Manchester Originals, Men's Hundred

Where

Edgbaston, Birmingham

When

19:00 BST, Sunday 28th August

How to watch

Sky Sports Cricket, Mix and Main Event; BBC2 and iPlayer

OddsPhoenix 8/13, Originals 13/10

Birmingham Phoenix finished top of the standings last year and have made a decent fist of repeating the feat, having won four of their opening six matches to amass eight points, good enough for third in the table at this stage.

London Spirit and Trent Rockets lead the way with 10 points, although the latter has played seven games, and a win for Birmingham on Sunday would be a big step towards at least securing a play-off place.

However, the motivation for Manchester is just as real as they can ill-afford another defeat at this stage, while a victory for them would see them join the Phoenix on eight points, with a better net run rate to boot.

The Phoenix have home advantage for this clash and do have a decent record at Edgbaston, having won two and losing just one of three games there so far, although that defeat did come in their most recent clash against the Northern Superchargers.

Last year, of course, Birmingham enjoyed a perfect four wins from four on familiar territory and they will be desperate to sign off on a high to boost their play-off hopes.

However, momentum must be with the Originals for this clash as they have reversed a three-match losing streak at the start of the campaign to win three on the bounce, all in convincing fashion too.

The Welsh Fire were beaten by 47 runs at Old Trafford before the defending champions, Southern Brave, were trounced by 68 runs at the Rose Bowl before Manchester racked up 208-5 in beating the Northern Superchargers by 23 runs at Headingley.

With the Superchargers having won recently by 32 runs at Edgbaston, the 13/10 on the Originals making it four wins on the bounce offers plenty of temptation.

Strength lies with the batters

This match-up looks loaded with firework potential as the strength of both sides appears to be with the willow in hand, and there could be an explosion of sixes on Sunday.

The Originals are coming into the game on the back of amassing 208-5 and it is not hard to see why, given their line-up looks stacked at the top of the order.

England opener Phil Salt is the leading player from either of these two sides so far, having clubbed 238 runs in total at an average of 47.60 to lie third in the overall run-scoring standings, and he is 11/4 to top score for the Originals.

Jos Buttler is not too far behind in sixth place, having scored 203 runs at an average of 40.60, and is absence with a calf injury could be telling, although Andre Russell should not be forgotten with the West Indian all-rounder having smashed 148 at an average of 37.00.

Birmingham are not without their superstars and their top two from the inaugural campaign last year are leading the way again, albeit not quite as destructively.

Liam Livingstone, 11/4 to finish as his team's top batter, finished well clear at the top in 2021 and is the Phoenix's top scorer so far with 173 runs, but that is only good enough for 10th overall, while Moeen Ali is next best with 157, but an average of 26.17 suggests that the home side have not been as consistently good as they were last year.

Still the potential is there for sixes galore and the bowling figures could take a bit of a battering on Sunday.

Arguably the edge could be with the hosts as Kane Richardson and Tom Helm have both hit double-digits for wickets taken with 10, while Paul Walter has managed eight for the Originals, at an impressive economy rate of 6.25.

Chance to secure play-off berth

What

Birmingham Phoenix v Manchester Originals, Women's Hundred

Where

Edgbaston, Birmingham

When

15:30 BST, Sunday 28th August

How to watch

Sky Sports Mix and Showcase

OddsPhoenix 4/7, Originals 11/8 

Birmingham Phoenix have a chance to secure their place in the play-off positions in the women's Hundred when they take on the Manchester Originals on Sunday, and with a record of three wins and one defeat, it is no surprise they have been installed as the 4/7 favourites.

The Phoneix made an excellent start to the campaign by beating the Welsh Fire, Trent Rockets and Northern Superchargers in their first three games, but they do go into Sunday's clash on the back of an eight-wicket hammering at the hands of the Oval Invincibles.

However, the Originals may not be the side to capitalise as they have struggled so far, recording just one win from four games and another defeat would see them eliminated from the post-season.

Manchester have been beaten by the Trent Rockets, Southern Brave and Northern Superchargers last time out, with their one success coming against the already-eliminated Fire.

However, the Originals are not without hope as Deandre Dottin is the leading runscorer of the two sides, having struck 147 runs to lie sixth in the overall standings, with Ellyse Perry Birmingham's leading light with 129 runs to lie eighth, with her team-mate Amy Jones in 12th with 112 runs.

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