Rain across the south of England has led to eight no results in the past ten days, leaving the South Group wide open for anyone to take hold of.
Two of those teams are Hampshire and Kent, who meet for the first time in the Natwest T20 Blast this season at Southampton, and both of whom share a similar recent record.
Just five points separate Kent from leaders Glamorgan thanks to the Welsh county’s four rain-ruined matches, with the hosts two points further up the table.
They have each taken just three points from their last five games but, with half a dozen fixtures remaining and the group so open, a quarter-final spot is very much within reach for both counties.
Hampshire began the competition unbeaten from their opening three matches, but a rain-affected victory at Gloucestershire on Friday marked their first win since that run.
In between, a pair of woeful batting performances, an abandonment, and an unsuccessful chase of 205 saw them slip from first in the South Group to fourth – by virtue of net run rate.
That’s where they remain, but with no other fixtures in the group on Tuesday could jump to second with a win which would leave them a point shy of Glamorgan.
Kent had two wins from their first three games but have since managed just one victory – over Somerset – with a Duckworth/Lewis-tie in their run too.
Victory on the south coast could see them leapfrog their opponents and be well-positioned to qualify; defeat would likely spell the end of their hopes.
For a player of his pedigree, George Bailey has had something of a disappointing run in Hampshire’s Blast campaign thus far. He boasts just two double figure scores – 37* and 28* – with four consecutive single-figure knocks coming into this match, capped with a two-ball duck on Friday. But although his List A record is superior to his performance in the shortest format, the former Australian T20 captain’s wicket is of big value, and he’ll be looking to make a real mark on the Blast.
Joe Denly is one of just ten batsmen to hit centuries in this year’s tournament, with an unbeaten 116 in Kent’s win over Surrey. This match comes at a nice time for him too: he’s just been nominated for the PCA’s Player of the Month award for July, and is the club’s leading run-scorer in the Blast. At the top of the order, Denly’s runs are crucial to building a large total – or chasing one, as they have done in all but two matches – and he will need to perform.
Michael Carberry suffered a hamstring injury in Hampshire’s win against Gloucestershire on Friday, and misses out, while Shahid Afridi remains in the squad despite having been dropped from the XI for that match.
Hampshire squad: James Vince (c), Lewis McManus (wk), Kyle Abbott, Shahid Afridi, Tom Alsop, George Bailey, Gareth Berg, Mason Crane, Liam Dawson, Fidel Edwards, Sean Ervine, Rilee Rossouw, Reece Topley, Brad Wheal, Chris Wood
Kent have named an unchanged squad from Sunday’s defeat to Glamorgan as New Zealand quick Adam Milne continues to be absent with a thigh injury.
Kent squad: Sam Northeast (c), Sam Billings (wk), Daniel Bell-Drummond, Alex Blake, Mitch Claydon, Matt Coles, Joe Denly, Sean Dickson, Calum Haggett, Jimmy Neesham, Imran Qayyum, Darren Stevens, James Tredwell
Weather and conditions
Mild temperatures are in prospect with sunshine set for the entire evening. It will be a welcomed change for two teams who have had two of their last three matches affected by rain.
Date: 1st August 2017
Ground: The Ageas Bowl
Umpires: Billy Taylor & Steve O’Shaughnessy
Odds (SkyBet): Hampshire 8/11, Kent 11/10