Northern Superchargers v Birmingham Phoenix
Live on Sky Sports
Chargers out of juice
The Superchargers are out of the reckoning for qualification. They sit on three wins and will rue a campaign which has been disrupted by injuries and absentees.
After losing Faf Du Plessis and Ben Stokes, Adam Lyth and Harry Brook were ruled out with positive Covid tests. Whether they return to the XI remains to be seen but it would appear unlikely. The minimum period of isolation after contracting the virus is ten days and news broke of the two positives eight days ago.
Not that Superchargers missed them, bizarrely. They smashed 200 against Manchester Originals to record the highest score of the tournament. John Simpson smoked 71 off just 28 balls.
Possible XI Kohler-Cadmore, Lynn, Willey, Vilas, Thompson, Simpson, Raine, carse, poots, Rashid, Mujeeb
Must-win for Phoenix
This is essentially a semi-final for Birmingham without the jeopardy. If they win they go straight to the final at Lord's where they may be blessed by the return of Moeen Ali. Defeat would mean an actual semi-final.
They come into the game in great form, having given Trent Rockets a good going over at Edgbaston. They thrashed 166 and then bowled like demons with the new ball to take control of the chase. Liam Livingstone, stand-in skipper for Moeen, seemed to relish the responsibility and produced a top-bat effort. Miles Hammond also crashed quick runs.
They do have bowling issues, though. In Tom Helm they have the second-most expensive specialist bowler in the competition and surely he loses his spot to Dillon Pennington. Pennington took 2 for 11 off 15 balls and Helm one for 32 off the same. Of greater concern is the fitness of Adam Milne. Mile has been the best quick in the tournament and Birmingham desperately need him as attack leader.
Possible XI Allen, Smeed, Livingstone, Hammond, Benjamin, Cooke, Howell, Milne, Brown, Pennington, Tahir
The three matches at Headingley have produced first-innings scores of: 200-127-173. As you would expect both monster scores were defended. With no rain forecast and the wicket flat, this could be another opportunity for a team to go big. Birmingham average 1.6 runs per ball with the bat and 1.4 with the ball, Superchargers 1.5 and 1.33.
We're more prone to side with Birmingham for runs if they bat first because of that depleted Superchargers batting, although if Milne is out and Helm remains we may change our view. More than 150 could come in at 2/1. Sportsbook go even money that both sides score 140 or more. Given the run rates it's not a bad wager.
Waiting on Milne
The match odds market is struggling to put clear water between these two. Phoenix are as big as 1.9010/11 with Superchargers 2.01/1. The uncertainty is probably due to team news. Once it is confirmed that Lyth and Brook are missing, Phoenix will probably shorten up.
Patience is the virtue, though. It would be crazy to bet before we know the XIs. As much as the market is unsure of who will turn out for Superchargers, it wants clarification on Milne.
Top-bat backers may reckon that Finn Allen and Will Smeed are tasty at 3s and 10/3 respectively with Betfair Sportsbook because of their stand-and-deliver approach. Livingstone is the favourite but he's been boosted to 11/4. For Superchargers, we're happy to see Chris Lynn taking up the biggest percentage of the book at 11/4 meaning Kohler-Cadmore, who should open, looks chunky at 7/2. Simpson is 8/1.