Ed Hawkins previews the Friday clash in The Hundred from Sophia Gardens and ponders an innings runs gamble
"That's still pretty stingy about Rockets and we have to admit we were hoping for 1.705/7. On that basis Fire might be worth risking for a trade"
Welsh Fire v Trent Rockets
Friday 6 August 19.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
The Fire could fizzle out in this inaugural edition. They have suffered the loss of too many key players and it is hard not to feel some sympathy.
On the eve of the tournament they were informed their captain Jonny Bairstow would play only two group games. And those two games were bitter-sweet. He propelled them to victories and it looks likely that they will have only served to make Fire wonder what might have been.
Liam Plunkett has since been ruled out through injury and Lungi Ngidi will play no part. And on Thursday it was announced Jake Ball was injured. Luke Fletcher, the Notts pacer, has been called in. That is a major disruption to the bowling group. And one which has struggled to keep things tight.
So far they have the joint-worst runs per ball economy alongside Southern Brave. Ryan Higgins and Qais Ahmed are valiantly trying to change that.
Probable XI Banton, Cobb, Duckett, Philipps, Du Plooy, Critchley, Neesham, Higgins, Qais, Payne, Milnes
Rockets remain favourite for the title despite their first loss of the campaign to Birmingham Phoenix last time out. There is precious little evidence that the defeat could be the beginning of a turnaround in their fortunes. Particularly as Phoenix since downed Oval Invincibles.
Still, the belief remains that the Rockets could get stronger. Are they making the best of a squad which has far more depth than most? We've yet to see Luke Wright for example. Steven Mullaney is a useful all-rounder.
Ben Cox could give it a bash. All three could add batting depth if they were prepared to continue using D'Arcy Short's spin.
One change which looks certain is a debut for Wahab Riaz. He has replaced Marchant de Lange who has returned to Somerset.
Possible XI Short, Hales, Malan, Patel, Moores, Gregory, Rashid, Wahab, Carter, Wood, van der Gugten
Cardiff has produced first-innings scores of 150 and 165. Both were by the Fire. If Fire bat first again it's a contest between the fastest scorers and the third-most economical bowling unit. If Rockets bats first it's the third-slowest runscorers against the priciest bowling unit. That latter stat rather scotches the idea that this could be a trend-buster in terms of the average score (see data below). Forecast showers, although not heavy, also put a dampener on taking a risk on something like 3.505/2 for 160 or more Rockets.
The Hundred data
Batting 1st average score 139
RBP average 1.40
RBP average batting 2nd 1.39
145 or more 7/14
Powerplay average 32.8
Powerplay ave batting 1st 30.5
Powerplay average batting 2nd 34.2
Favourite wins 9/14
Chaser wins 8/14
Rockets so short
Rockets are no better than 1.574/7 on the exchange. That's the shortest price about a team all tournament. Fire are 2.1211/10. One would hope that once the market settled it's the Rockets price that gets puled into line.
Sportsbook go 4/6 and 6/5. That's still pretty stingy about Rockets and we have to admit we were hoping for 1.705/7. On that basis Fire might be worth risking for a trade - using the cash out suspension below - pinning hopes on a fast start from the likes of Tom Banton or Ben Duckett, who has been tremendous.
Isn't it time (déjà vu) that Fire abandoned the experiment with Josh Cobb as opener and gave Glenn Philipps a go? If you think the Fire management are on our wavelength the 4/1 (Sportsbook) is a gamble. Duckett is 13/5 and 5/1 for top match bat.
For Rockets, Alex Hales is 13/5. We also note his price of 4/1 for top match bat. Rashid Khan batted at No 6 last time so it's important to point out that Sportsbook go 30/1.
Read our half-time report on each team on The Hundred - here
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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