Trent Rockets v Birmingham Phoenix
Friday 13 August 19.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Rockets can improve
After setting the early pace the Rockets have been pulled back to the pack. They remain in a strong position to top the group with two to play and they will be pleased to return to Trent Bridge.
It may prove to be no coincidence that the Rockets looked at their most powerful in their two home games which were also their first two.
Still, one wonders whether they may need to start being a little smarter with selection. Does anyone know where Luke Wright has gone? Perhaps Wahab Riaz's departure - after just one game - due to injuryr will give them the opportunity to play an exta batter. Or Sam Cook will retain his place.
With the wicket expected to spin, the Rcvkets have a potential 80 balls of spin if they care to use D'Arcy Short.
Previous XI Short, Hales, Malan, Mullaney, Moores, Patel, Gregory, Rashid, Cook, Carter, Van der Gugten
Liam Livingstone has called Moeen Ali's departure to England for duty against India a "massive miss" for Birmingham Phoenix. At least he's honest.
The truth hurts though and if you were on our pre-season pick for glory you can probably notch down a loss. Phoenix need their captain, run machine and poster boy. Franchises who have suffered the loss of England players have fared badly (Welsh Fire and London Spirit) and Phoenix may have to kiss goodbye to hopes of top spot.
Livingstone will lead the team in Moeen's absence. It would seem unlikely he would be made available for the finals. Daniel Bell-Drummond or Chris Cooke could come in for Moeen but they will miss his spin bowling, too. Tom Abell is unlikely to be fit.
Possible XI Allen, Smeed, Livingstone, Hammond, Benjamin, Cooke, Howell, Milne, Brown, Helm, Tahir
Trent Bridge was expected to be a road in this tournament based on T20 data. However, the groundstaff appear to have prepared a raging turner to suit the Rockets' army of spinners. Scores of 132 and 126 are well below the tournament average. Taking a risk on under 130 and 120 could pay off. Laying those at skinny numbers carries minimal liability.
Rockets posted 144 against Phoenix earlier in the tournament and were well beaten. But that was at Edgbaston, one of the best batting surfaces. Sportsbook go 10/11 both teams score 140 but we'd prefer the option to bet 'no'. No rain is forecast.
The Hundred data
Batting 1st average score 134.9
RBP average 1.45
RBP average batting 2nd 1.44
145 or more 10/22
Powerplay average 33.8
Powerplay ave batting 1st 32.5
Powerplay average batting 2nd 36.5
Favourite wins 14/22
Chaser wins 13/22
Rockets can come up in-play
Rockets are 1.824/5 with Phoenix 2.1211/10. Despite that Phoenix success against Rockets, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that they are severely hampered by Moeen's absence.
Not only have they lost their best hitter against spin but their second-most economical tweaker. Moeen's runs per ball rate in the field is 1.48, just 0.01 more 'expensive' than the excellent Imran Tahir.
Livingstone, who will presumably have to fill in, is going at 1.68 per ball. That could be the game right there particularly as Phoenix insist on picking Tom Helm with a rate of 2.02.
If Rockets chase we can hope for 1.9520/21 with Will Smeed and Finn Allen destructive enough to move the market. Spin should then take control.
Miles Hammond looks a stand-out price for Phoenix top bat at 20/1 with Sportsbook. Hammond's boundary hitting is revered by Phoenix, so much so that he began the tournament as an opener. It wouldn't be a surprise if he moved up the order to compensate for the loss of Moeen.
For Rockets, Rashid Khan was promoted to No 6 in the previous meeting. That makes the 45/1 look chunky as it could have been done on match-up data. We also note the 6/1 that he picks up the match gong.