Ed Hawkins previews the double header on Saturday from Trent Bridge and Headingley in The Hundred...
"Superchargers are unequivocally stronger and we would be surprised if they were unable to get off to a winning start at home."
Trent Rockets v Southern Brave
Saturday 24 July 14.00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
Rockets need fuel
The Rockets might be in need of some fuel for their batting. There are legitimate concerns that The Hundred is not the format for the likes of Dawid Malan and Joe Root. The former needs time to get going and the latter has been dropped by England in T20.
They are okay up front, however. A probable opening pair of D'Arcy Short and Alex Hales will not die wondering. Luke Wright is an exceptional boundary hitter at No 3. Could they use Rashid Khan as a pinch-hitter at No 4? They probably should. Indeed, there have to be doubts as to whether Root is good enough even to get into this side.
With the ball Rashid will have to do a lot of heavy lifting. Marchant de Lange has replaced Wahab Riaz. They look vulnerable in the field on a flat wicket.
Possible XI Short, Hales, Wright, Rashid, Malan, Gregory, Moores (wkt), Patel, De Lange, Luke Wood, Carter
Brave wait on De Kock
Southern Brave are the favourites for the title and have been ever since the draft was completed. The main reason for that was the captures of Andre Russell, David Warner and Marcus Stoinis. All have pulled out. Quinton de Kock, the South Africa hitter, is a replacement but will miss the first match with South Africa in Ireland
Jofra Archer is fit, though, and the balance of the XI remains strong. Devon Conway, Delray Rawlins and Ross Whiteley have plenty of power with the bat, James Vince plenty of class. Do they lack international-class spin? Yes but Danny Briggs, Liam Dawson and Max Waller are useful options. In truth, Brave have gambled on pace with Chris Jordan, George Garton, Craig Overton and Tymal Mills available.
Possible XI Conway, Davies (wkt), Vince, Rawlins, Whiteley, de Grandhomme, Archer, Dawson, Briggs, Jordan, Mills
Trent Bridge is the most batsman-friendly surface for T20 in the country. It tops the list for runs per over of available tournament venues. In the last two years the average run rate per ball has been 1.59. More than 160 should be in danger here. With the Brave enjoying greater bowling ability we'd prefer if they bat first. Keep fingers cross that the early market move for over 155 on the runs line remains.
Rockets a trade
Brave are 1.845/6 favourites with Rockets 2.206/5. On bowling ability that seems fair. But does the pitch level things up? Possibly.
We are not enamoured with the Rockets line-up but they should show strong intent with the bat in the early exchanges at least. A rapid start opens up the chance for a simple in-and-out trade as they flip to favourites.
Plenty to be excited about on the tops market. Is Archer a 100/1 chance for top Brave bat wager? If the Brave want to be smart and maximise players with good boundary rates it is not inconceivable that he could be promoted up the order. We like Rashid for the Rockets for the same reason at 20/1.
Northern Superchargers v Welsh Fire
Saturday 24 July 18.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Superchargers will make use of Ben Stokes for the two group games he is available. Harry Brook or Tom Kohler-Cadmore are the ones likely to miss out. Stokes would complete a very strong front four with the bat. There is a lot to like about Chris Lynn and Adam Lyth if they are allowed to be reckless.
With the ball Adil Rashid and Mujeeb-ur-Rahman are a tremendous spin pairing. One would expect them to turn matches or close them out between them. This is just as well as the Superchargers bowling is reliant on them.
Possible XI Lynn, Lyth, Du Plessis, Stokes, Kohler-Cadmore, Simpson (wkt), Willey, J Thompson, Adil Rashid, Carse, Mujeeb
Fire look tepid
Welsh Fire are irked that Jonny Bairstow is likely to be carrying drinks for England during the Test series instead of bolstering their batting. When he goes they look a limited outfit likely to struggle to challenge for a top three spot.
Qais Ahmed is going to have to have a big tournament because they are short on spin. The pace attack is not entirely convincing, either, with the ageing Liam Plunkett senior man. Jimmy Neesham is only available for three games. This might not be a bad thing considering his form for Essex. Olli Pope's injury has robbed them of a finisher.
Possible XI Bairstow, Banton (wkt), Phillips, Duckett, Neesham, Cobb, Higgins, Qais Ahmad, Ball, Plunkett, Payne
The Leeds pitch is another belter for batters. It is second to Trent Bridge on that RPO list. The data in the last two years for runs per ball in T20 suggests a score of 153 is on. We'd like to play Superchargers for 155.5 or more at even money on the runs line because of that weak Welsh bowling. No rain is forecast.
Hosts should dominate
The market can't split these two with 1.9720/21 the pair available. Man for man we think Superchargers are vastly superior.
Of course betting any team with confidence in a format which is only days old is a risk. All we can go on is the old-fashioned type of analysis which asks: man for man who is better? Superchargers are unequivocally stronger and we would be surprised if they were unable to get off to a winning start at home.
The top match bat market might offer value here. Kiwi Glenn Phillips has been in sensational form for Gloucestershire in the Blast and goes off at 11/2. He should bat in the front three for Fire. Bairstow and Banton are 7/2 and 5/1. Lynn and Lyth are 5/1 and 11/2.
The Hundred Preview Part 2 on Cricket...Only Bettor
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