T20 Blast Preview: Worcestershire Rapids vs Hampshire

T20 Blast Preview: Worcestershire Rapids vs Hampshire

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Ben Cox has been crucial for the Rapids with both bat and gloves in this year's competition

There are two acute stats that accompany this quarter-final which are hard to leap over. The hosts have never reached Finals day in its more than a decade duration while Hampshire has seen their star shine seven times. This is in every way a contest between a formality and an upsurge. Of those seven times the visitors has been invitees for the past five years, a record they wouldn’t want to opt out of lazily. The other stat being, this is the first time these two teams meet in a T20 since its inauguration.

If Rapids are to break through the barrier it will be a new bride at the altar, someone the priest has never seen before. Their travails during this calendar year in the competition lend hope though. They only finished behind holders Birmingham Bears in the North Group and their passage to a knock out berth was guaranteed with almost three games to spare in the group stage. Hampshire had to crawl their way there and did so by securing two excellent victories in the last two games of their campaign.

The form and the experience suggests that it’s Hampshire who are favourites during this clash but coupled with the home advantage and the accumulation of more match winners than previous years could see Rapids stretch them to the limit.

Will the experience of the master prevail or has the pupil something up in his sleeve for an element of surprise? A date at Edgbaston awaits the winner.

Key Men

The game could be set up for the Rapids by impact players like Moeen Ali and Ross Whiteley, who has struck 27 sixes, but it’s stiff to forget the importance Ben Cox carries down the order. He has been the Rapids’ finisher who has come up with thrilling knocks under the pressure, and if you require 15 runs off the final over Cox has been the home side’s man to bet on. He has also been involved with the unique tactic of taking his gloves off and acting as an extra fieldsman during the death overs.

James Vince’s 534 runs with four fifties has been the branch that Hampshire’s totals have grown up on and they will be expecting more of the same from their captain. It was Vince’s unbeaten 90 against Sussex Sharks that brought Hampshire back from the doldrums to be in contention again for a quarter-final spot and having hit form at the right time, they will be savouring the trip to Worcester.

Form

Worcestershire Rapids: AWWLW

Hampshire: WWLWL

Team News:

The release of Ali by England will give the Rapids much needed encouragement as they battle to get their captain Daryl Mitchell ready for the game. Mitchell, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, has been doing the hard yards and the inclusion in the squad by Steve Rhodes hints at him playing.

Worcestershire won’t however be having the middle order explosions of New Zealander Colin Munro who has been called up for national duty.

Worcestershire Squad: Daryl Mitchell (c), Moeen Ali, Tom Kohler Cadmore, Joe Clarke, Richard Oliver, Brett D’ Oliveira, Ross Whiteley, Ben Cox (wk), Joe Leach, Ed Barnard, Jack Shantry, Saeed Ajmal, Charlie Morris, Alexei Kervezee.

Hampshire have named a strong 15-man squad which includes Sean Ervine and Fidel Edwards. Ervine has recovered from a finger injury which deprived him two months of action while Edwards has completed his Caribbean Premier League commitments.

Hampshire Squad: James Vince (c), Michael Carberry, Adam Wheater (wk), Owais Shah, Liam Dawson, Joe Gatting, Jimmy Adams, Sean Ervine, Will Smith, Gareth Berg, Chris Wood, Yasir Arafat, Danny Briggs, Mason Crane, Fidel Edwards.

Weather and Conditions

Unfortunately, rain is expected to play its part with showers expected throughout the day. The wet morning is expected to clear as the evening approaches but the severity of the damage by the thunder showers might force a delayed start or the game to be postponed for the reserve day. It will be largely dry overnight with only isolated showers and clear skies.

New Road’s pitch has been usually slow in nature with lots of runs in it but with conditions expected to be damp for the most part, it could mean that there could be some swing available for the bowlers.

Date: 14 August 2015

Ground: New Road

Time: 5.30 pm

Umpires: TBC

Odds (SkyBet): Worcestershire 1/1, Hampshire 4/5

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