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The Hundred: Liam Livingstone powers Birmingham Phoenix into men’s Hundred final

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Liam Livingstone’s devastating hitting powered Birmingham Phoenix straight into the men’s Hundred final with a crushing eight-wicket win over Northern Superchargers at Headingley.

At one stage Livingstone seemed to be in his own six-hitting contest as he smashed the highest score of the tournament so far – 92 not out from just 40 balls.

In a match televised live on BBC Two, Livingstone hit an incredible 10 sixes as his side raced to victory with a massive 26 balls remaining.

The Phoenix had earlier quietened the raucous Leeds crowd by fighting back with spin and Adam Milne’s near-perfect closing spell to turn Superchargers’ 82-0 after 40 balls into 143-8.

Livingstone himself took 3-25 in a stunning all-round performance.

Birmingham are now guaranteed to take top spot in the men’s Hundred table meaning they go directly into Saturday’s final at 18:30 BST, live on BBC Two. Southern Brave and Trent Rockets meet in Friday’s eliminator.

“I’m not bothered about who we face. We’ll take on anyone!” Livingstone confidently joked.

“We deserve to be there and we’re playing good cricket, but we’re just going to go out there and enjoy it.”

Livingstone lights up Leeds

The quality, range and power of Livingstone’s hitting was verging on the ridiculous.

We shouldn’t be surprised – last month he hit two sixes out of Headingley when playing for England against Pakistan – but his performance today was extraordinary.

At the start of the game, the home supporters were vocally supporting the Superchargers but as Livingstone charged on they were scrambling for cover – or tumbling to complete crowd catches (the patrons of Headingley seem to be particularly good at catching).

Livingstone said afterwards he felt under pressure after his side lost skipper Moeen Ali to England duty.

He couldn’t have delivered in any more impressive fashion.

The 28-year-old charged almost from the off, reaching the tournament’s fastest fifty from 20 balls before passing the previous highest individual score of 81 with a nonchalant flick over his shoulder near the end.

He has now hit 23 sixes in the tournament, 11 more than any other batter. Having hit his maiden international hundred earlier last month too, the man from Barrow-in-Furness having a summer to remember.

Milne ‘as good as it gets’

In the end it did not really matter as Livingstone looked like he could have chased any score, but usually a good death bowler – the one who bowls the crucial deliveries at the end of an innings – can be the difference between winning and losing in 100-ball or Twenty20 cricket.

In his final spell, Milne, a New Zealand international, bowled the last 10 deliveries of Superchargers’ innings and conceded just six runs.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan said it was “as good as it gets”.

Imran Tahir (0-18) and Liam Livingstone (3-25) had stopped the Superchargers’ flow of runs brilliantly but Milne, one of the fastest bowlers in the tournament, finished it off in style.

As well as preventing runs he took two wickets, including a searing 92mph ball at the toes of Ben Raine which clattered into the base of the stumps.

Afterwards, Livingstone said Milne would be the first overseas player on his teamsheet when picking a team anywhere in the world.

The Phoenix, whose women’s side¬†all-but qualified for their eliminator earlier in the day, go charging into Saturday’s final.

Source: BBC Sport

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