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With a chance to rise up the points table, Gloucestershire will face Essex Eagles in their upcoming encounter at Chelmsford on 10th August 2018. Essex are placed at the bottom of the table, a position jointly held by them, Hampshire, and Middlesex, separated only by net run rate. Gloucestershire, on the other hand, have won six out of their nine games and are looking well set to make it to the knockout stage.
The Eagles once again finished second, in a nail-biting encounter at Cardiff, where Glamorgan edged them by six wins. Although Essex are virtually out of the tournament, they are perfect candidates to upset the teams trying hard to keep themselves in the top-four.
After being hit for 198 runs by Glamorgan, they needed to score at almost ten runs an over to stay afloat in the match. They looked good at the halfway stage with Varun Chopra and Ryan ten Doeschate into an important partnership. With their departure, however, the situation quickly escalated to 70 required off final five. Although they scored at a rapid pace in the next three overs, they still needed 32 in the final two overs. Bopara failed to hit 24 required off the final over as they fell short by six runs.
Although they conceded 198 on a 160-170 wicket, their bowling was much better than what the scoreline suggests. Simon Harmer and Ravi Bopara were, in particular, exceptional with the ball as they picked 3 wickets for 45 between them. Quinn had a bad day as he was taken for 61 runs in his four including the over where he was smashed for thirty by Colin Ingram. Their death bowling was poor as they gave away in excess of 60 runs in the final three overs. All in all, it was an improved performance by Essex, but not enough to return to the winning ways.
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After facing an unanticipated defeat from Glamorgan, Gloucestershire returned to the winning ways as they overcame Joe Denly's superb knock to beat Kent by eight wickets.
Bowling first at Canterbury, Gloucestershire's new-ball bowlers failed to find any success as Kent reached to fifty without any loss within the powerplay. After a dismal start and a poor first-half, Gloucestershire needed to bounce back with the ball to restrict Kent from running away with the match and their bowlers did it to perfection. From 84 for 1 after halfway stage, Kent were reduced to just 160 as Andrew Tye and Benny Howell bowled well at the death.
While Kent bowlers tried their best to plug the flow of runs and induce a wicket, responsible batting by Gloucestershire batsmen awarded them with yet another win. The chase was set up by Miles Hammond as he smashed his first T20 fifty of his career. Michael Klinger played the role of sheet-anchor with a calm 46-run knock before Benny Howell played a quick-fire cameo of 20 to take Gloucestershire home.
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The South Group of Vitality T20 Blast is an interesting stage with three teams virtually out of contention and others fighting it out for the playoff spots. Gloucestershire have done well thus far, but a flourishing finish would be necessary to stay in the top four. Although they failed to secure a win against Glamorgan, the Eagles will be pumped by their improved performance. Given the way the two teams have done so far in the competition, Gloucestershire are better placed to emerge victorious in the upcoming encounter.
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