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The Hundred - Cricket: Welsh Fire v Northern Superchargers preview

After six defeats in six matches, Welsh Fire Men will be desperate to break their duck in their final home game of The Hundred, against the Northern Superchargers.

The Fire have had a tough campaign but they are 11/8 to give their fans in Cardiff something to cheer about when they host the Superchargers, also out of the running for the end-of-season playoffs, on Friday.

WhatWelsh Fire vs Northern Superchargers, The Hundred
WhereSophia Gardens, Cardiff
WhenFrom 15:30, Friday 26th August
How to watchSky Sports Cricket, Sky Sports Mix
OddsWelsh Fire Men 11/8, Northern Superchargers Men 4/7; Welsh Fire Women 7/4, Northern Superchargers Woman 4/9

Superchargers expected to extend Fire's losing run

Welsh Fire were dealt a blow shortly before the start of The Hundred when England star Jonny Bairstow pulled out of the tournament due to the hectic international schedule.

Without Bairstow, the Fire's batting unit has struggled to put competitive totals on the board and Monday's home defeat to Southern Brave encapsulated their season.

Batting first, the Cardiff franchise lost three wickets for one run in the first seven balls of their innings, with youngster Jacob Bethell, captain Josh Cobb and key batter Ben Duckett all falling for ducks.

A sixth loss of the 2022 campaign followed on Wednesday, although their bowlers did a decent job of restricting high-flying London Spirit to 156-6 off their 100 balls at Lord's.

Once again, the Welsh top order failed to fire, slipping to 37-4 after 44 balls. Indeed, early wickets have derailed the Fire all summer long as their openers have posted stands of 13, 1, 13, 0, 46 and 0 in their first six matches.

Southern Brave's top two Paul Stirling and Quinton de Kock put on 121 in Monday's nine-wicket romp in Cardiff and the Fire face another in-form opening batter on Friday.

Adam Lyth has been dismissed for a duck in two of the Superchargers' six games, but his other four scores were 51, 79, 56 and 46 and he has struck 17 sixes in those four knocks.

Lyth is 5/1 to hit the most sixes in the match on Friday and the left-hander is 11/4 to be the Superchargers' top batter.

Middle-order batters could prop up faltering Fire

Given the Fire's batting struggles, it could pay to look beyond the favourites in their top batter market and middle-order man Leus du Plooy is well worth considering at 13/2.

Du Plooy scored centuries in both innings of Derbyshire's County Championship match against Durham in July, but he is also a dangerous white-ball hitter, top-scoring with 37 from number six against the Brave on Monday.

That was his first appearance in this summer's Hundred and he followed up with 30 off 18 balls against the Spirit - the second-highest score of the innings, just pipped by Duckett's 34.

At 20/1 a chance can also be taken on the Fire's number seven Matt Critchley, who cracked 21 off seven balls at Lord's on Wednesday, having made a brisk unbeaten 32 against the Brave two days earlier.

Adam Hose at 11/2 to be the Superchargers' top batter should also be on punters' shortlists.

Hose has made fifties in their last two games, clouting 53 not out off 35 balls against Birmingham Phoenix and 59 from 27 against Manchester Originals.

In-form Wolvaardt has key role for favourites

Like the men's team, Welsh Fire Women are bottom of The Hundred standings having lost all of their matches and Northern Superchargers are 4/9 to inflict a fifth straight defeat on their hosts.

An away victory would boost the Superchargers' chances of making the play-offs - the top three teams qualify - as they have won two of their first four fixtures.

They should have a spring in their step after a fabulous seven-wicket victory against northern rivals Manchester Originals last time out when they looked to be on the ropes having conceded 160-3 at Headingley.

However, an unbeaten 90 from Laura Wolvaardt steered the Superchargers to their target with one ball to spare and the South Africa international, who scored 32, 24 not out and 49 in her three previous innings this season, is 12/5 to be the top batter for her team again.

Wolvaardt is not the only threat to the Fire bowlers, as her opening partner is Australia's Alyssa Healy, one of the most destructive hitters in the women's game.

Healy has had a lean spell by her own high standards, passing 25 only once in her last ten Hundred and Twenty20 innings for the Superchargers and Australia and she is 5/6 to score under 21.5 runs in Cardiff.

The Superchargers' India all-rounder Jemimah Rodrigues was ruled out of the tournament with a hand injury last week, but they remain a formidable unit and the Fire women will have to raise their game if they are to claim a first win of 2022.

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