Ed Hawkins previews Wednesday's offering in The Hundred from Edgbaston where he favours the visitors
"The opportunity to get with Oval at odds-against, then, may not come around too often. As we have so often said, bowling is key in this tournament and Oval are the more economical"
Birmingham Phoenix v Oval Invincibles
Wednesday 4 August 19:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Helm has to go
Birmingham are back on track in their bid for a top three spot. Before Tuesday's match they were in fourth position with two wins and two losses. Success last time out against Trent Rockets, the runaway leaders, should have given them a huge boost.
But not too much. There's nowt wrong with introspection. Those who have taken the 7/1 about a title win will be pleading for them to drop Tom Helm, the pacer, who keeps getting a game despite awful economy.
Helm is costing Phoenix a crazy 2.19 runs per ball. When you consider the tournament average for innings rates is 1.4 it is baffling as to how he gets a game. Dillon Pennington, a 6ft 4in destroyer, is surely worth a try.
Opener Will Smeed has been a find. He won the man of the match against the Rockets thanks to ferocious hitters and alongside Finn Allen the pair could really do some damage.
Possible XI Allen, Smeed, Livingstone, Moeen, Hammond, Benjamin, Howell, Milne, Brown, Pennington, Tahir
More spin required
The Invincibles put defeat by Superchargers behind them when producing a strong bowling effort to take down Welsh Fire on Monday night. It was their second win having suffered one loss and a washout.
We're not convinced by their balance, though. Laurie Evans is not a No 6. And we're concerned they're pace-heavy. Nathan Sowter for Jordan Clark might make more sense given the importance of spinners.
At the moment it looks as though the top sides will be bowling at least 60 balls of spin (leaders Rockets are getting close to 80) and Oval can only manage 40 with this line-up. In their defence they would say that only Tom Curran and Reece Topley are costing more than the tournament average runs per ball. They'd like Colin Ingram to show some form, too, with the bat.
Possible XI Roy, Jacks, Narine, Billings, Ingram, Evans, Clark, T Curran, Shamsi, Topley, Saqib
The Edgbaston surface has twice produced first-innings scores of 144 in the two matches played there. It is no study sample, of course, but the data below would suggest that it could prove to be one of the better batting tracks in the tournament. Oval have been tighter with the ball than Phoenix so any gamble on over the first-innings runs line at 145.5 may require them to be batting first.
The Hundred data
The Hundred data
Batting 1st average score 139
RBP average 1.40
RBP average batting 2nd 1.39
145 or more 7/14
Powerplay average 32.8
Powerplay ave batting 1st 30.5
Powerplay average batting 2nd 34.2
Favourite wins 9/14
Chaser wins 8/14
Phoenix are 1.8810/11 with Oval 2.0621/20. We would have expected the odds to be the other way round or at least to be a choice affair.
The opportunity to get with Oval at odds-against, then, may not come around too often. As we have so often said, bowling is key in this tournament and Oval are the more economical. They could really hammer down their advantage if they picked spinner Sowter.
We're keen to keep the toss on our side, though, with the chaser beginning to enjoy a bias. The price should hold on Oval batting second.
Jason Roy and Liam Livingstone have both been boosted for top Oval and Phoenix bat respectively. Roy goes off at 3/1 and Livingstone 10/3. Phoenix openers Allen and Smeed will not die wondering and are priced at 10/3 and 7/2. Both look chunky.
We think we might have found a strategy for man of the match. The adjudication is done by a social media vote and there is a slight trend for the player winning the award to produce in the second dig. This makes sense considering attention spans of the masses, recency bias etc. Could the fabulous pacer Adam Milne be a follow at 9s for Phoenix post-toss? Openers also might give us an edge and we note Allen and Smeed at 11s and 12s respectively
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