Welsh Fire v London Spirit: Warne and co to avoid wooden spoon

Eoin Morgan
Morgan has disappointed

Ed Hawkins has an in-play strategy ready for the final group game in The Hundred on Wednesday from Cardiff

"Why anyone would want to bet a team at odds-on which has one once in six attempts is a mystery, even if Fire have their flaws"

Back Spirit in-play bat 2nd from 2.206/5

Welsh Fire v London Spirit
Thursday 19 August 18.30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Fire flop

Welsh Fire's hopes of qualification ended some time ago. They never really recovered from the loss of Jonny Bairstow's call to England duty but they also suffered by losing bowling options, notably Liam Plunkett, Jake Ball and Lungi Ngidi.

The result is 11 different bowlers used and the most profligate bowling unit in the competition. Ryan Higgins is their most economical bowler with a runs per ball rate of 1.09 but he's only played two games. Injury must have forced Fire's hand.

With the bat they're not too shabby. Tom Banton has got them off to decent starts in the powerplay but failed to go on. He's not had a settled opening partner. David Lloyd, Ian Cockbain and Josh Cobb have all been tried post YJB.

Possible XI Banton, Lloyd, Cockbain, Duckett, Philipps, Du Ploy, Neesham, White, Qais, Fletcher, Payne

Spirit shocker

If only London had shown some Spirit. It's been a curious effort from north-west London franchise who took far too long to get to grips with the unique nature of the tournament.

That's a surprise from a team coached by Shane Warne and led by Eoin Morgan. Warne, in particular, has always been about innovation yet he failed to spot the importance of intent in Luis Reece's bat early enough and the nous of fellow leggie Mason Crane.

It's just one win for them, although they did go close against Oval Invincibles last time out when, perhaps, they had no right. The key was Hampshire pacer Brad Wheal, who has been a late find for them at the death.

Possible XI Rossington, Inglis, Reece, Cracknell, Morgan, Bopara, Nabi, van der Merwe, Cullen, Wheal, Crane

Pitch report

Sophia Gardens looks like a very decent batting track from the three matches. The first-innings scores read: 139-150-165. That 139 was by Fire against the Rockets, who chased down with ten balls to spare. With the Fire bowling wayward, we'd be happy to go over the runs par line at the top end of the 140s - probably 147.5 - with Spirit batting first. More than 150 and 160 might be a push, though, so it makes sense to play it a little safer with Spirit, as discussed, unreliable. Sportsbook go 5/6 that both teams make 140 or more. Normally that's even money but it's been adjusted for the pitch and the Fire bowling. No rain is forecast.

Worst price of the tournament

This is the last game of the group stage so it's quite something that we're yet to come across a price that stinks the place out. But patience is a virtue and the 1.8810/11 about Spirit takes the award.

Why anyone would want to bet a team at odds-on which has one once in six attempts is a mystery, even if Fire have their flaws. But if you are that person at least wait for Fire to make their obligatory fast start which should flip the market.

Qais Ahmed is a doubt for Fire so a possible strategy is to wait for the team news to confirm he misses out, wait for Fire to bat first, wait for the powerplay and then look to get the flip. Spirit would reckon they could chase 160 tops.

As a contest it's not a brilliant betting heat because this is for the wooden spoon. Loser finishes bottom.

Tops value

Sportsbook have spotted that Lloyd could join Banton again in the opening slot but is the 9/2 too big about an opener? He doesn't have the record of a 9/2 chance, averaging just under 25 and striking in the 130s. Aussie opener Josh Inglis has been boosted to 10/3 for Spirit top bat. He's been a disappointment considering his sensational Blast form and rather sums up Spirit's campaign.

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