This year’s Vitality Blast hasn’t gone to plan for either Surrey or Hampshire and their London encounter on Wednesday night provides the hosts a last chance to reach the knockout stages.
Surrey, in fifth, need victory to keep within touching distance of Glamorgan and Kent above them in the South Group ahead of Friday’s final round of matches. Defeat renders a quarter-final spot impossible.
They welcome back Aaron Finch after his week’s absence and he will be a crucial inclusion. Of their five defeats this season, Finch has missed four of them. The devastating partnership of 194 he and Jason Roy put on against Middlesex serves as an intimidating reminder of Surrey’s power.
It’s enough to scare many teams, especially one which has won just once in the competition this season. Hampshire are above only Middlesex in the table — the only team they have beaten — and are set to crash out in the group stage for just the second time in a decade.
The campaign has been disappointing, particularly given that they entered it off the back of winning the Royal London One-Day Cup. Consistent runs have been an issue: no county’s top scorer has as few runs as Liam Dawson’s 262.
For Hampshire, it’s a case of ensuring they take some pride out of the final week of the Blast ahead of the closing rounds of the Specsavers County Championship and denying Surrey a route to Finals Day would certainly help achieve that.
Though his big-hitting, world number one T20 batsman partner Finch often steals the show, Jason Roy is no slouch. His performances this season have yet to be truly dominant: 28 is his highest score after his 84 against Middlesex. It’s hard to write off a man with four T20 hundreds though and, while his game has matured in recent years, he’s still capable of some brutal hitting. If he has a good game, Surrey will be well set.
Rilee Rossouw has struggled in this year’s Blast. Deployed as a number four with overseas signing Colin Munro opening the batting, Rossouw scored just 86 runs in seven innings. Now that Munro has departed for the Caribbean Premier League, the South African has returned to open and hit a half-century in his last outing at Glamorgan. He – and Hampshire – will hope that signals a change in fortunes to come.
Aaron Finch returns to the Surrey squad after missing the last three matches, having briefly returned home for a family bereavement. Sam Curran and Ollie Pope remain unavailable through England duty.
Surrey squad: Jade Dernbach (c), Gareth Batty, Scott Borthwick, Rory Burns, Rikki Clarke, Tom Curran, Aaron Finch, Ben Foakes, Will Jacks, Nick Maddinson, Morne Morkel, Mathew Pillans, Jason Roy, Jamie Smith, Freddie van den Bergh
Lewis McManus replaced Dale Steyn in the no result at Essex, and the South African paceman could return to the team here. Expect an otherwise unchanged lineup.
Hampshire squad: James Vince, Kyle Abbott, Tom Alsop, Gareth Berg, Liam Dawson, Fidel Edwards, Jake Lintott, Lewis McManus, Sam Northeast, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rilee Rossouw, Ryan Stevenson, Dale Steyn, Joe Weatherley, Chris Wood
Weather and Conditions
A cloudy evening is in prospect for South London, but it should remain dry. Rain over the past week will mean the surface isn’t as dry as it has been at times this summer, but the wicket at The Kia Oval is usually excellent for batting. Expect the same again.
Date: 15th August 2018
Ground: The Kia Oval
Odds (SkyBet): Surrey 8/15, Hampshire 6/4