The race for Finals Day is hotting up and Ed Hawkins analyses the quarter-final clashes this week...
"Notts won this competition last year with pure muscle. It is fitting, then, that the two powerhouses meet for a battle for a place at finals day"
Toss will be key at Canterbury
Kent v Lancashire
The key for game one on Thursday is the toss bias, which stands at more than 60% for the team batting first at Canterbury down the years. It's significant and you wouldn't want to wager without it on your side.
The issue at Canterbury is not solely a terrific batting wicket or slightly below-par lights. It's both. When a team gets first use they generally go big and scoreboard pressure coupled with a moving ball in the gloom has made things tricky.
Kent are 6/1 on Blast outright market with Betfair Sportsbook while Lancashire are 13/2. The hosts may reckon they're a better side than they're being given credit for. They lost just two matches in the group section with rain washing out four matches.
Both outfits are good chasers, though. Indeed, Lancashire won four from six batting second.
Durham will miss Tahir against solid Sussex outfit
Durham v Sussex
Sussex hit a rich vein form at exactly the right time to qualify. They won their last three, although it is fair to say that almost every outright market in the land expected them to make it far more easily than they did.
They are joint-favourites with Nottinghamshire at 5/1. That's fine. But wait. Their talisman, Rashid Khan, is unavailable for this quarter-final. On the same day he is slated to be playing for Afghanistan against Ireland.
Before you get excited about Durham's price to win the match (around [2.3] on the exchange), it should be noted that they have lost their own superstar. Imran Tahir has left them for the Caribbean Premier League. Oh to have some of his stardust available.
Still, they are no one-man team. They won three from five without him and perhaps took their foot off the gas in their final group match, which they lost to Leicestershire after a weary batting display.
Even without Rashid, the Sussex bowling is good (Jofra Archer to name but one) and in-running the match odds market hugely respects that. Often they are shorter than they perhaps should be at the break.
'Hugely impressive' North Group winners face tough clash
Worcestershire v Gloucestershire
Ordinarily at this stage of the season we would bemoan the odds makers for failing to respect an unfashionable, poorly supported, non-Test venue team. But Worcestershire are about bang on at 11/2 on the outright.
They were hugely impressive in winning North Group. Despite the loss of Martin Guptill (another who jumped ship for the CPL), Moeen Ali, Callum Ferguson and Joe Clarke have kept the accelerator down.
It is with the ball that they really impress. Wayne Parnell, Guptill's replacement, and Ed Barnard are wicket-takers but they can't touch Pat Brown, who with 27 is the top wicket-taker in the country.
Gloucestershire are a tough nut to crack, though. They give everything and two losses in their last two should not be blown out of proportion. They save energy for when it really counts. Before that they'd won six from seven and in AJ Tye and Michael Klinger they have match-winners.
A battle of batting powerhouses
Somerset v Nottinghamshire
Somerset captain Lewis Gregory is either a genius, or something else. In their final group match against Kent at Canterbury he ignored the heavy toss bias and stuck the hosts in. Somerset lost by just five runs in a chase of 232.
Gregory could have fancied giving his ferocious batters a real test of a chase. Or he and his crew might not have an eye for detail. We tend not to give management groups the benefit of the doubt. Are Somerset all brains and no brawn?
Maybe it doesn't matter. Notts won this competition last year with pure muscle. It is fitting, then, that the two powerhouses meet for a battle for a place at finals day.
We suspect this is a bat-first game, too. Go big early on and then let scoreboard pressure do the rest. A possible wager if a match bet is not for you is the first-innings run. More than 200 looks on the cards.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l