The paths of Glamorgan and Hampshire have so far run parallel in this season’s Natwest T20 Blast. Both recorded impressive opening night victories before falling to disappointing defeats in the second round of fixtures. They meet on Friday looking to recapture the spirit of the former games, and put the latter behind them.
There is rarely any shame in losing to a Ravi Bopara-inspired Essex, as Glamorgan found out last week, but they will have been disappointed to have fallen so meekly, as Essex romped to a target that always looked twenty runs short. Several batsmen gained starts, but failed to go on, and in the opposition, they came up against the one man capable of doing just that.
Hampshire, meanwhile, were stunned by an incredible Kent victory at the Ageas Bowl, as the side from Canterbury recovered from 70/5 to overhaul a target of 173 with four balls remaining, and those five wickets still in the bag. Had Hampshire followed up their impressive opening victory over Essex with a win last Friday, the twice-champions would have been sitting pretty and anticipating yet another trip to Finals Day. As it is, Friday’s game marks an important juncture in the early group stages.
These two sides have produced some entertaining clashes over the years. In last year’s Blast, there was a win apiece as Glamorgan managed their first ever T20 win at the Ageas Bowl, whilst in 2013, Jim Allenby inspired Glamorgan to a CB40 semi-final victory over their much-fancied opponents.
For Glamorgan, South African Colin Ingram is one of those afore-mentioned players capable of turning 30 into 70, or indeed 91, as he did in their opening match with Surrey. The left-hander has shown admirable commitment to the Welsh side, signing under a Kolpak ruling and therefore limiting his involvement with his national side.
Hampshire’s batting line-up has always been impressive, and now their bowling looks to be not far behind. Star quality comes in the form of Fidel Edwards, but Yasir Arafat, the reliable all-rounder, can always be relied upon to take wickets at important junctures. An average of 21 certainly attests to that.
Wayne Parnell is expected to make his debut for the home side, after recovering from an injury that has delayed his involvement. In addition, all-rounder Ben Wright should return after sitting out the match against Kent with an injury.
Hampshire look set to keep faith with the same side that lost to Kent, as they name the same eleven, plus Gareth Berg and Chris Dawson, in the travelling squad.
Glamorgan squad: Jacques Rudolph (c), Will Bragg, Chris Cooke, Dean Cosker, Michael Hogan, Colin Ingram, Craig Meschede, Wayne Parnell, Andrew Salter, Ruaidhri Smith, Graham Wagg, Mark Wallace, Ben Wright.
Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Will Smith, Jimmy Adams, Liam Dawson, Danny Briggs, Adam Wheater, Yasir Arafat, Owais Shah, Sean Ervine, Gareth Berg, Michael Carberry, Chris Wood, Fidel Edwards.
Weather and conditions
After heavy showers early on Friday morning, Friday evening looks to be dry and bright, although temperatures of 12 degrees are probably not what the ECB visionaries expected when they drew up marketing plans for the tournament. Pitches at the SWALEC Stadium rarely look enticing, but last week’s match with Essex saw a target of 145 breached comfortably, suggesting a decent batting track.
Date: 29th May 2015
Ground: SWALEC Stadium
Umpires: David Millns & Jeff Evans
Odds (bet365): Glamorgan 6/5, Hampshire 4/6