Ed Hawkins previews the contest from Lord's on Thursday in The Hundred and he thinks the hosts may be slightly underrated
"Batting second is a must, though. We may even be able to hope for 2.407/5 or better if Rockets make a fast start in the powerplay"
London Spirit v Trent Rockets
Thursday 29 July 18.30
Live on Sky Sports
All change for the London Spirit, who are the team most impacted by England withdrawals. They lose Zak Crawley, Dan Lawrence and Mark Wood. Do they have the strength in depth to cope?
Well, Crawley's opening position could (should) be taken by Derbyshire's Luis Reece, who has struck at 171 in the Blast. So no problem there. Lawrence's absence also means Spirit can squeeze in Mason Crane, the leggie. Crane was not included in the XI for their first two matches (the second was washed out against Invincibles) and we would be surprised if coach Shane Warne didn't heed the tournament trend for spinners dominating. Mark Wood was not in either line-up.
Mohammad Amir was pricey in their opening defeat by Birmingham and there are concerns that the attack lacks control and potency.
Possible XI Reece, Inglis (wkt), Denly, Morgan, Bopara, Nabi, Van der Merwe, C Wood, Cullen, Amir, Crane
The Rockets are the early pace-setters, winning two from two. However, both came at Trent Bridge on a surface which has been prepared for their strengths. How they get on here will be a greater indication of their talent.
There is no Joe Root, who has been a key bowler. So they have two most likely routes. Either they pick a specialist batsmen in Luke Wright or an all-rounder like Steven Mullaney or Simon Cook. Matt Carter, the spinner, had already been added to the XI for their last success over Northern Superchargers, and he should retain his spot with spin options reduced to three.
Alex Hales top scored in the win over Superchargers with a superb - and uncharacteristic - anchor role under pressure. He would dearly love a score to remind Eoin Morgan he is one of the best hitters in the business.
Possible XI: Short, Hales, Wright, Malan, Moores (wkt), Patel, Gregory, Rashid, De Lange, Matt Carter Luke Wood
Lord's has been decent for batting in T20. It has an RPO of 8.1, which makes it third-best for batters of The Hundred venues. In the last two years the runs per ball average is 1.38. That is bang on with the first-innings average in the matches so far as you can see from the data below. If the runs par line is pitched in the 145 area again it looks like a short.
The Hundred data
Batting 1st average score 138
RBP average 1.42
145 or more 3/7
RBP average batting 2nd 1.42
Powerplay average 36.7
Powerplay ave batting 1st 35.7
Powerplay average batting 2nd 37.7
Favourite wins 4/9
Chaser wins 4/7
Spirit can fight
We are seven matches in at the time of writing so the study sample is not big enough yet to make definitive judgements. But we note the signs that chasing is easier.
With the match odds market so keen on the Rockets at 1.774/5 we're more than nervous about such skinny odds pre-toss. If Spirit can get their selection right (as many spinners as possible) they have the capability to more than hold their own for a trade.
Batting second is a must, though. We may even be able to hope for 2.407/5 or better if Rockets make a fast start in the powerplay. No rain is forecast, by the way.
Hales has faced Morgan only once in T20 cricket since the England captain said he wasn't to be trusted and dropped from the World Cup squad. Hales smashed 83 from 47 at the end of summer 2019. He is 21/10 with Sportsbook to be top Rockets runscorer and 7/2 for top match bat. Reece is 3/1 for the Spirit and 6/1 for top match bat.
Rashid Khan is 6/4 to be top Rockets wicket-taker. Crane is 4/1 for Spirit but could Joe Denly be used in a Root-style role for them? He looks big at 8/1 with a tie the ploy.
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Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. Includes Hawk-Eye column p-l