A quick fire 46 from Samit Patel and a superb spell of death bowling from Wahab Riaz took Trent Rockets to the top of The Hundred table as they brushed aside the Welsh Fire in Cardiff.
The Fire had looked set for a very big total after a 72-run stand between Glenn Phillips and Leus du Plooy, but Wahab brought the Rockets back into the game at the death.
The early dismissal of D’Arcy Short and a cluster of wickets in the middle of the Rockets’ innings had given the Fire hope of defending the 140-run target but Patel’s intelligent innings took the Rockets to a straightforward win.
This victory takes the Rockets to eight points, two points clear of the chasing pack with three group matches still to play.
“It is obviously a reasonably short competition in terms of cricket comps and it is obviously vital to get off to a really good start,” said Lewis Gregory.
“We couldn’t have asked for a huge amount more really.
“We’ve been pretty clinical with the ball throughout and got the job done with the bat when needed to.
“And the nice thing is that it is different guys sticking their hands up throughout the competition when we are needing them to.
“Wahab is obviously a clinical performer across the world for a number of years. To have his services we are obviously very lucky and very fortunate.
“He performed really well at the end and it is the difference between chasing 140 and 155 or something like that if it had got away from us at the back end.
“That could be the difference in games like that.”
The Fire lost two early wickets with Tom Banton and Ian Cockbain both falling inside the powerplay. Phillips and Ben Duckett looked to rebuild after the loss of both openers, taking the fire to 53 before Duckett was the third wicket to fall when he skied a catch of Steven Mullaney to Riaz.
That brought together Leus du Plooy and Phillips who put on the biggest stand of the match. Phillips brought up his first half century of The Hundred from just 34 balls.
Unfortunately for the home team he could not go on from there, falling to the very next ball.
With Phillips and du Plooy well set the Fire were eyeing up a total 150 or more. That became 139 for eight at the end of their 100 balls thanks to a superb final 10 from Wahab Riaz in which he conceded just 11 runs and claimed three wickets.
The Rockets looked to build a solid platform at the start of their innings, reaching 31 for two at the end of their powerplay. The cluster of three wickets gave the Fire a chance of defending the total but Patel and Lewis Gregory put on an undefeated stand of 69 from just 33 balls to take their side to victory.
Patel’s innings included six sixes, including a big shot over the bowler’s head to win the game.
The Rockets won by six wickets with 10 balls to spare and they are very well placed to claim one of the three spots in the latter stages of the tournament.