Welsh Fire Men’s And Women’s Teams Burning A Path To Finals Day

Welsh Fire men’s and women’s teams have kept their seasons ablaze with the possibility that both could make finals days in The Hundred.

Both sides won against London Spirit on Sunday at Sophia Gardens – the first time they have tasted victory together in back-to-back matches in Cardiff.

Jonny Bairstow praised the man’s team for keeping cool heads as the men’s team followed the women with a huge victory.

The England Test star top scored for Fire with 41 as they beat Spirit by six wickets to keep alive their hopes of a place in finals day.

Earlier, Fire’s seamers had set them on the path to a victory which keeps their top three hopes very much in reach.

“It was pretty clear that it was quite a tough wicket to play big shots on so it was about being a bit more calculated and any width had to travel but if it was straight, it was about trying to keep it out,” said Bairstow.

“We’ve spoken about tempos and going up and down, and you just have to adapt as and when.”

Fire captain Tom Abell said: “I’m very happy. We came into tonight desperate for a win with finals not far away – it still feels like we are in the hunt. I’m chuffed for the boys.

“We had to adapt to the wicket and it helps when you have a world-class bowling line-up. We knew any chase would be tricky but it was a case of trying to take wickets but building pressure throughout the middle.”

New Zealand pair Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson impressed in their first game while David Willey and David Payne also took advantage of a seam-friendly wicket, all taking two wickets each.

London Spirit had Ravi Bopara to thank for getting them to three figures after an early batting collapse, while Dan Worrall took three early wickets to give them hope in the field.

The result sees the two teams swap places in the table between fifth and sixth, while Welsh Fire are level on points with third place, but behind on net run rate.

For Welsh Fire women, their hero Sophia Dunkley insisted fortune had favoured the brave after leading her team into the knockout stages..

England star Dunkley led the way with 68 and 2 for 15 against Spirit, as Welsh Fire qualified for the Hundred finals weekend for the first time by beating London Spirit by 23 runs.

The team which did not win a single match last year, and only two the year before, is now guaranteed at least a place in the Kia Oval eliminator, while they have one game left to try and top the rankings and go straight through the Lord’s Final.

It was also a record attendance for a Women’s Hundred game in Cardiff of 7,069, who enjoyed watching the home side reach 161, a total no team has topped in this year’s competition apart from Welsh Fire themselves.

Dunkley said: “We’re just playing brave cricket all the way through. “Finals can be nervy but we’ll try and stick to our guns and play like we have all the way through the tournament. We want to keep the momentum going.

“It was a hard decision to sit out of England’s series against Sri Lanka but there is a lot of cricket around and it is the right thing to do for me at the moment.

“It was the right call to miss the first two games of this competition too.”

Welsh Fire head to Northern Superchargers next for a straight shootout for the chance to finish top, if Southern Brave do not win their last game at Manchester Originals.