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Joe Clarke powers Originals to seven-wicket win as Welsh Fire’s unbeaten run ends

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Taxing but obtainable target of 151 hunted down with five balls to spare in Cardiff

Manchester Originals 153 for 3 (Clarke 58) beat Welsh Fire 150 for 6 (du Plooy 43, Hartley 2-12) by seven wickets

Joe Clarke produced a match-seizing innings of 58 from 31 balls – ably supported by Phil Salt in an opening stand of 94 from 48 balls – before Colin Munro and Colin Ackermann banished any late jitters with a brace of evenly-paced cameos, as Manchester Originals ended Welsh Fire’s unbeaten start to the tournament with the second win of their own campaign, a seven-wicket victory with five balls to spare at Cardiff.
After winning the toss and batting first, Fire posted a competitive total of 150 for 6, thanks largely to Leus du Plooy’s hard-hitting innings of 43 from 21 balls, allied to scores of 32 and 30 from Ben Duckett and Matt Critchley. However, the suspicion at the halfway point was that that total was 10-15 runs light on a surface that offered good value for strokeplay. Clarke set out to prove just that, bursting out of the blocks with four fours and four sixes in an innings that allowed Originals to coast to victory in the back-end of their chase.

Hartley makes hay in Bairstow’s absence
It’s hard to imagine any team has been more scuppered by a big-name absence than Welsh Fire by Jonny Bairstow’s England Test recall – as Gary Kirsten, in one of his now habitual embargo-busting faux pas, outlined to talkSPORT prior to the start of the competition.

To lose their captain after two games was unsettling enough, but Fire have also lost their single most important batter too – the man whose back-to-back fifties had powered them to victories in each of their opening games. And in his absence at the top of the order, Originals capitalised with two early breakthroughs, courtesy of Tom Hartley’s understated left-arm spin.

After a brace of seam-up sets from Steven Finn and Carlos Brathwaite, Hartley entered the fray for ball 11, and by the end of his first back-to-back ten, he had extracted both Josh Cobb and Tom Banton – each of them unwitting victims of Cardiff’s tempting short, straight boundaries that encourage drives back through the line.

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