Trent Rockets 147 for 4 (Hales 58, Munro 36, Root 34*, Helm 2-11) beat Birmingham Phoenix 143 for 7 (Livingstone 47, Moeen 35, Sams 3-24, Samit 2-12) with six wickets
Moeen struck early in the chase by bowling Dawid Malan with a ball that stayed low after hitting two fours over the covers, but Phoenix failed to take the early wickets they needed: Munro aimed for the left arm of Graeme van Buuren and took his first five balls for 16, and the required speed was always under control.
Hales tried to pile up, pushing and pushing his way to 30 out of 26, then hammered Van Buuren for two sixes into three balls to take all the pressure off. He skied one back to Tom Helm to fall for 58 and Tom Kohler-Cadmore then dropped the second ball, but Root’s innings had brought them close and Lewis Gregory grounded the winning line.
Hales, Carrot Ice Cream Hunt
Rockets needed 83 from 62 balls as Root walked away to join Hales and while struggling to push boundaries at first, they got ready for a late push by hitting the ball around and wickets in hand to keep.
When Hales took down Van Buuren and hit him two sixes over long-on – the first was tipped over the line by Miles Hammond on the rope – the comparison dropped from 51 out of 34 to 39 out of 31. Both batters then grabbed the line at Imran Tahir and Root waved Moeen over midwicket.
“I’ve spent my entire career here and it’s a place I’ve always loved hitting,” Hales told the BBC afterwards. “It was about getting the run rate down as early as possible. We thought it was a par score, but Trent Bridge is a small site with a fast outfield; we talked about partnerships being important.”
Rashid Khan is only available for a handful of matches in the Hundred this season due to Afghanistan’s upcoming series against Ireland, but didn’t make the goal Rockets had hoped for. He hadn’t played in a month, an unusually long break for one of the busiest cricketers in the world, and he was struggling to find his rhythm.
Moeen swung his second ball for six over midwicket and Livingstone mustered one in the stands. He threw a tight third set, but Livingstone stopped in his third set and swung him three straight sixes over the leg side. Rashid finished 0 for 39 of his 20 balls, his most expensive spell in his ten hundred matches.
Livingstone, meanwhile, was one point behind AB de Villiers and now tops the list of batters with the most T20 runs versus Rashid: 115, on 65 balls.
Phoenix only managed to score 14 runs off the last 15 balls of the innings: Sams and Luke Wood relied heavily on their cutters, putting in the squeeze, and 143 for 7 proved to be slightly below par, even on a slow , used pitch. Sams, who was chosen for Marchant de Lange, one of the league’s most outstanding fast bowlers last year, finished 3 for 24, with Livingstone catching the last ball of his spell at long range, while Wood’s 20 balls were exactly 20. runs cost.
Phoenix, last year’s runners-up, had to deal with a number of absentees: Olly Stone, Chris Woakes and Tom Abell have been excluded from the tournament due to injury, while Adam Milne is still recovering from an Achilles tendon and Matthew Wade is unwell felt the day before the game.
They will need to recover quickly, with a repeat of last year’s final against Southern Brave on Wednesday in Edgbaston. “We probably left a few runs in the end. They played really well in the power play,” said Livingstone. “We thought we had a competitive score, but we just lost to a better team.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98