Southern Brave v Trent Rockets
Friday 19 August 18.30
TV: live on Sky Sports
Southern Brave lost their first two matches and have not looked back since. They have won five consecutive matches and have eschewed the trend for franchises to favour spin bowlers. They have been all about pace.
George Garton, Chris Jordan and Tymal Mills have formed an excellent trio of pacers. Mills has been expert at the death and could force his way into the England squad for the World T20. Their top wicket-taker is a spinner, however. Wildcard pick Jake Lintott has ten.
The shock and awe approach has been matched by the bat. Quinton de Kock is striking at 178 and Paul Stirling 166. They could add even more firepower. Tim David, who has been in sensational form for Surrey, has been added to the squad as replacement for Colin de Grandhomme. All-rounder Craig Overton is also available.
Those two changes mean that despite De Grandhomme getting them home in what proved to be a knockout game against Oval Invincibles, Brave look stronger than at any time in the tournament. Do be aware, though, if they pick David they have only five bowling options.
Possible XI De Kock, Stirling, Vince, Davies, David, Whiteley, Garton, Jordan, Briggs, Mills, Lintott
The Rockets were the early pacesetters but since winning their first three on helpful spinning surfaces, they are 2-3. It is true that two of those losses came against Birmingham Phoenix, the group winners, though.
They have also suffered some issues with their bowling plans. Wahab Riaz's arrival meant Marchant de Lange was sent back to Somerset only to return one game later because the Pakistani was injured. The experiment with Tim van der Gugten was also abandoned quickly after he went for 3.4 runs per pall.
Rashid Khan and Samit Patel hold the team together. Rashid has an RBP of 1.32, bettered by Samit by 0.01. Samit has been terrific with the bat, striking at 170, and England really should consider taking him to the UAE.
Up front with the bat D'Arcy Short, Dawid Malan and Steven Mullaney have all been reliable. Alex Hales, despite striking at 135, hasn't quite caught fire yet.
Possible XI Short, Hales, Malan, Mullaney, Patel, Gregory, Moores, Rashid, Carter, De Lange, Cook
The Oval has hosted three matches unaffected by rain, returning first-innings scores of 146-121-145. The Oval-Rockets clash was reduced to 65 balls with the hosts posting 125 for a nine-run win.
But it has assisted the spin bowlers. Mason Crane, Joe Denly, Tabraiz Shamsi and Sunil narine were all mean in the most recent contest when SPirit couldn't quite defend 147.
For that reason we are inclined to reckon it could pay off to be going under the runs par line, which is likely to be set slightly higher because of the batting power on show here. An even money short at 146.5 might pay off handsomely.
Such a wager is hardly taking a risk against the teams' tournament averages with the bat. Brave average bang on 1.45 runs per ball and Rockets 1.47. No rain is forecast.
Rockets could have edge
The Rockets thumped Southern Brave in only the third game of the tournament. At Trent Bridge, Brave were undone by spin and could post only 126. Many will consider that head-to-head to be irrelevant given what has happened since.
But is it? Do Brave not face another trial by tweak on a surface which could be slow, low and tacky? If so, the Rockets will reckon they have too much guile.
The match odds market can't make up its mind. It's a choice affair with Brave 1.9720/21 and Rockets 1.991/1. Batting second, we reckon we can get 2.1011/10 Rockets with a fast Brave start. The toss bias for the chaser in the tournament is standing at 62%. Rule that out at your peril.
There is a standout wager on the top Rockets runscorer market. Sportsbook go 18/1 about Steven Mullaney. It's not the first time they've been wrong, going as big as 40s versus Originals when he had been batting at No 4. He actually batted at No 3 in that game. Mullaney is averaging 21 and is striking at 144. He has batted at No 4 twice and No 6 once.
De Kock and Hales have been price-boosted to 12/5 for their respective top bat honours. Both men are 7/1 for man of the match.
Rashid is 13/8 to be top Rockets wicket-taker and 8/1 for man of the match. The later is probably worth an interest given that the winner is decided by public vote. Samit is 7/2 and 11/1 for the same.
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