The Hundred: Birmingham Phoenix rookie Chris Benjamin seals victory over London Spirit

Zak Crawley hammered 64 from 40 balls - the highest score of the Hundred so far - but it was not enough to earn London Spirit victory at Edgbaston, where Moeen Ali top-scored with 40 as Birmingham Phoenix chased down their 145 target

Chris Benjamin, Birmingham Phoenix (Getty)
Image: Chris Benjamin struck 24 not out from 15 balls to wrap up a three-wicket success for Birmingham Phoenix against London Spirit (Getty)

Birmingham Phoenix rookie Chris Benjamin hit an unbeaten 24 from 15 balls to clinch a thrilling three-wicket victory against London Spirit at Edgbaston.


Zak Crawley smashed the highest score of the Hundred to date - and also came within three balls of becoming the first player to bat right through an innings in the tournament with his knock of 64 from 40 balls.

Spirit opener Crawley struck three sixes and six fours, eventually holing out to the 98th delivery of the innings, supported by Joe Denly's 25 from 14 as the visitors totalled 144 at Edgbaston.

Phoenix lost early wickets in reply, but captain Moeen Ali came to their rescue - taking advantage of being dropped on nought to hammer 40 from 30 deliveries.

Zak Crawley, London Spirit (PA Images)
Image: Zak Crawley's innings of 64 from 40 set up London Spirit's total of 144 at Edgbaston

However, when Moeen was caught in the deep, Birmingham still needed 47 from 29 balls with five wickets standing as wily Spirit skipper Eoin Morgan began to turn the screw.

But Phoenix rookie Chris Benjamin, a 22-year-old with just four senior Warwickshire appearances to his name, stepped into the breach by blasting an undefeated 24 from 15 to seal his side's victory with three balls to spare.


Ironically, Moeen had fumbled a catch himself during the Spirit innings, juggling at mid-off and dropping Ravi Bopara - who would later pouch the Phoenix skipper's straight drive to end his knock of 40.

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Moeen Ali, Birmingham Phoenix (Getty)
Image: Birmingham Phoenix captain Moeen Ali survived an early drop to hit 40 from 30 in his side's successful run chase (Getty Images)

Had Moeen departed for a duck, with his side already under pressure in the run chase, the course of the game might have turned towards London - but Denly was unable to cling on at cover and Moeen took full advantage.


With no disrespect to Benjamin, he probably wasn't one of the highest-profile Hundred recruits - but what an inspired selection for the Phoenix.

He struck two sixes in three balls off Blake Cullen - the first of them an audacious reverse scoop - to secure victory and make himself an immediate hero with Birmingham fans.


    Chris Wood's running catch on the boundary to dismiss Phoenix's Liam Livingstone, top-edging a hook off Cullen, was superb - yet it still wasn't the most eye-catching of the game.

    Step forward, Roelof van der Merwe. Back-pedalling at long on to try and retrieve Daniel Bell-Drummond's heave, he showed not only safe hands but nimble footwork as he pushed the ball back, skipped calmly over the rope and back into the playing area to complete the dismissal.


    For ice-cool reactions, you can't fault Adam Milne.

    The Phoenix paceman, who bowled superbly to give away only 18 from his 20 balls, was incredibly casual as he completed a return catch to dismiss Bopara for 17 late in the visitors' innings.

    Bopara unleashed a full-blooded drive, with the bowler sticking out his right hand almost as an afterthought and never flinching as the ball stuck.


    Poor Mohammad Amir struggled with his line and inadvertently got the Edgbaston crowd going as he sent down a no-ball, followed by three successive wides in a five-ball set that lasted a full eight minutes.

    But despite the jeers and chants emanating from the Hollies Stand, the Pakistan seamer had the last laugh as he rounded off that uncomfortable spell with an absolute corker that pinged through Finn Allen and sent his leg stump flying.


    Birmingham Phoenix's Chris Benjamin:

    "It was amazing to be out there in front of a big crowd at Edgbaston. I'm really grateful to get this opportunity with the Phoenix.

    "I only found out on Tuesday morning when I turned up at the ground just to do some work on my keeping but was told the Phoenix were interested in signing me after Adam Hose unluckily got injured.

    "There was definitely a little bit of pressure out there with the scoring rate up above eight an over if we'd been in a normal T20, but I gave myself a little bit of time to get used to the wicket and then managed to connect with a few."

    London Spirit's Zak Crawley:

    "It is a very disappointing result. It was a very good game of cricket and just disappointing that we came out on the wrong side of it, but fair play to the Phoenix, they played very well and deserved the win.

    "To play my first game in the Hundred was a great experience. It's definitely different to T20 with the slightly different rules and it takes a bit of getting used to but, at the end of the day, it's cricket and you've still got to play cricket shots and bowl all the same balls you would in T20.

    "We have got four home games on the spin now. We were away tonight and playing at Edgbaston is never easy but we probably had our chances to win and didn't take them."


    It's Super Saturday, with not just two Hundred games but four spread across the day!

    Trent Rockets and Southern Brave kick things off, with games at 11am and 2.30pm.

    The Women's Hundred Live

    The Hundred Live

    Also at 2.30pm, Northern Superchargers and Welsh Fire will get their double-header underway, with the second game at 6pm.

    Watch live on Sky Sports The Hundred and Main Event, as well as the Sky Sports Cricket YouTube channel, from 10.30am, with the first Superchargers vs Fire game available via the red button.

    Watch The Hundred live on Sky Sports this summer!

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