Ed Hawkins previews a crucial game in The Hundred from Southampton on Monday with both sides eyeing top spot
"Both teams to score 140 or more looks a fair bet given the strengths of the side - and the pitch. It clearly holds up well"
Southern Brave v Oval Invincibles
Monday 14 August 19.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Brave on a roll
Brave could well be the best side in the tournament. Victory here would take them into top spot and a defeat for Birmingham Phoenix against Superchargers would guarantee a final place.
They have won four in a row and only a washout has prevented them from taking all the points in matches since they opened with defeats by Rockets and Welsh Fire. Even Jofra Archer's absence has not worried them.
What is particularly extraordinary is that they are carrying Colin de Grandhomme, who gets picked every game despite awful numbers. He has 16 runs at a strike rate of 88 and a bowling economy of 2.30 runs per ball. It is a mercy that they seem to have taken him off bowling duty.
Brave could be stronger. Liam Dawson would be far more reliable. And it is a concern that it took them so long to get Danny Briggs into the side.
Probable XI De Kock, Stirling, Vince, Davies, Whiteley, De Grandhomme, Garton, Briggs, Jordan, Mills, Lintott
Invincibles prone to panic
Invincibles are on the same number of points as Brave so have the same wishes for a No 1-placed finish. They have won three of their last four.
Against London Spirit last time they produced a come-from-behind success with the pressure on. Chasing a tricky 147, they were in the mire at 57 for four. But picking Laurie Evans in the middle-order finally paid off as he rescued them with a brilliant 67 off 37.
It was notable, however, how many around him were losing their heads in what became a simple run-a-ball chase. Alex Blake and Tom Curran did not cover themselves in glory in that regard. Blake's position is up for grabs and is a weakness.
Possible XI Roy, Jacks, Narine, Ingram, Billings, Evans, T Curran, SOwter, Saqib, Topley, Shamsir
The three matches at Southampton have produced first-innings scores of: 144-128-151. All three were won by the chaser. Or, rather, all three were won by Brave. With the way Quinton de Kock has been striking through the line there seems nothing sticky or tricky about the surface.
With Brave batting first, it could well be time to start taking decent numbers about 160 or more. We might get 3.505/2. Certainly Oval have it in their locker to go round the park. They failed to defend 172 against Phoenix.
Sportsbook go even money about both sides scoring 140 or more each and that looks a fair bet given the strengths of the side - and the pitch. It clearly holds up well.
Oval the bet with balance
This is a choice affair with both teams available at 1.981/1. That seems fair. So how to split them?
Well, it could be decided by match-ups. Brave are considered to be weaker against spin than pace so Invincibles might be smart to match them up against spin. And in Sunil Narine and Tabraiz Shamsi they boast spinners with runs per ball rates of 1.1 and 1.48. If they picked Nathan Sowter, who has a rate of 1.20 albeit from two outings, we'd be all over them at that price.
But it's no guarantee. If Oval do go in with three spinners and get the tournament toss bias in their favour chasing, we'll bet them. No rain is forecast at the moment despite cloud cover.
De Kock, for the third game running, has been boosted by Sportsbook for top Brave bat. Can he make it a hat-trick of wins? He is available at 11/4. Spin is thought to be a weakness for De Kock. Interestingly he has only ever faced 16 balls from Shamsi in T20, striking at 166. Narine has his number, though, bowling 19 balls and conceding 15, getting him out once. Jason Roy has also been boosted to 11/4 by Sportsbook for top Oval bat.
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