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The Hundred - Cricket: Welsh Fire v Birmingham Phoenix preview

We might still be in the early stages of this season's Hundred, but Saturday's clash at Cardiff is already looking like a must-win for the Welsh Fire men.

It's been two defeats from their opening two games for Gary Kirsten's side and their next test comes against last year's runners-up, Birmingham Phoenix.

The two teams will also meet in the women's tournament, with both the Fire and Phoenix opening their campaign prior to the men's fixture.

Both women's teams have Australian internationals in their ranks and it promises to add some spark to what should be a fascinating battle at Sophia Gardens.

Duckett the key to Fire hopes

What:

Welsh Fire v Birmingham Phoenix Men, The Hundred

Where:

Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

When:

18:00, Saturday 13th August, 2022

How to watch:

Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Mix

Odds:

Welsh Fire 13/10, Birmingham Phoenix 8/13

The Welsh Fire have been heavily beaten in both of their opening two games, going down by nine wickets to the Southern Brave while the margin of defeat to the Oval Invincibles was 39 runs.

They have failed to score over 120 on both occasions and their batting line-up is definitely missing England star Jonny Bairstow, who withdrew from the tournament the week before the opener.

One man who has impressed though in a losing cause is Ben Duckett, who smashed 40 from 31 against the Brave and 25 from 16 against the Invincibles.

The England international is making a big impact in his first season in this format and can be backed at 10/3 to be the Fire's Top Batter.

Birmingham head to Wales after one win and one defeat in their opening two matches, but their batting line-up has real strength in depth.

Smeed and Brookes the surprise stars

Will Smeed has taken the headlines by scoring the first century – 101 off 50 balls - of The Hundred in their victory over the Southern Brave.

Below the opener, the likes of Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone have chipped in with useful runs and are also key with the ball in hand.

Imran Tahir, who famously claimed a hat-trick in last year's tournament, is yet to collect a wicket in this year's event but others have chipped in, including Henry Brookes.

The 22-year-old took 5-25 in the win over the Brave and is available at 10/3 to be the Phoenix's top bowler on Saturday.

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Perry can lead Birmingham to success

What:

Welsh Fire v Birmingham Phoenix Men, The Hundred

Where:

Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

When:

14:30, Saturday 13th August, 2022

How to watch:

Sky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Mix

Odds:

Welsh Fire 11/10, Birmingham Phoenix 8/11

The two teams had contrasting fortunes last year, with Birmingham finishing in the top three and reaching the eliminator, while the Fire finished bottom of the standings.

Take a look down the Birmingham squad list and your eyes are instantly attracted to Ellyse Perry, the very-talented Australian all-rounder.

Perry is widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest ever female cricketers and is currently ranked second in the international ODI all-rounder stats.

The 31-year-old is playing in The Hundred for the first time and expect fireworks, as she has provided in the Big Bash, where she has helped the Sydney Sixers to win two titles to date.

Carey could shine

The Fire will be led by Tammy Beaumont and the England international will need a big afternoon if the hosts are to claim an opening game victory.

Beaumont has plenty of experience in franchise cricket, having played for four different teams in the Big Bash, and has joined the Fire after playing for London Spirit in last year's tournament.

In terms of the bowling, one of the Fire's four overseas stars is going to have to deliver if they are to have good run in this event and that could fall to Nicola Carey.

The Australian has become a regular for her country over the last five years and was part of this year's Ashes winning squad.

Carey, who bats left-handed but is a right-arm pace bowler, has 114 T20 wickets to her name and could be one to watch.

The 28-year-old is 12/5 to be the Welsh Fire's Top Bowler in Saturday's clash.

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