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|RN ten Doeschate||5||7||0||0||71.43|
|Faf du Plessis||32||21||1||2||152.38|
Vitality T20 Blast has been a long tournament this year with 72 league matches played over the course of a month and a half. With the teams for the playoffs still not sure, all eyes will be on the result of the last encounter of the league stage. Kent Spitfires and Essex Eagles both are still in contention to qualify for the playoff, and the result of the final league match will govern the fate of the two sides. While a win for the Spitfires will be enough to take them through, Essex Eagles will need a miracle to get to the next round, even if they end up winning the upcoming fixture. The two teams are scheduled to lock horns on Friday, 30th August at County Cricket Ground, Chelmsford.
With a couple of other teams stuck with 13 points to their name, Somerset and Middlesex, Essex Eagles only have a mathematical chance to qualify to the next round. They not only need to win their match against Kent; they also need to do that with a colossal margin. In addition to that, they'd need all among Somerset, Hampshire, and Middlesex, to lose their matches.
They are coming off a crucial win in their most recent encounter, over Surrey, wherein Ravi Bopara smashed 70 runs to dump Surrey out of the competition. Batting first, Essex Eagles posted a tall total of 186 runs on the board, which was possible only due to a superb partnership between Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate. The pair added 117 runs in just 10.4 overs, which eventually proved to be the difference between the two teams.
In the second innings, their bowlers weaved magic on a sluggish surface as they got past a powerful batting lineup of Surrey with remarkable ease. Jamie Porter, who was included due to a last-minute injury to Aaron Beard, proved to be a blessing in disguise for them as he removed three Surrey batsmen in the powerplay. The rest of their bowlers chipped in well at regular intervals as Surrey fell short by 19 runs.
Tom Westley, C Delport, Adam Wheater, Dan Lawrence, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Paul Walter, SR Harmer, Mohammad Amir, Jamie Porter, Adam Zampa.
The addition of Faf du Plessis almost proved to be a blessing in disguise for Kent Spitfires as the South African captain almost took them to a win against Gloucestershire with a superb 60-run knock. He was ably assisted by Sam Billings, but lack of support from anyone else left them too much to do at the final delivery as they lost the match by a narrow margin of five runs.
Even the loss wouldn't have made a lot of difference to their net run rate; it certainly made it a little more difficult for them to qualify for the next round. They are currently placed at the third spot at the ladder with 14 points to their name and desperately need to win their upcoming match to win their next game to ascertain their qualification.
Against Gloucestershire, their bowlers failed to make an impression as Michael Klinger batted beautifully in the first innings which was coupled with some indisciplined bowling upfront. Barring Alex Blake and Imran Qayyum, who returned with the respective figures of 17 for 1 and 24 for 1, none of their bowlers conceded at an economy rate of under 8.75.
They have a terrific side on paper but have failed to replicate their strength on the field in their last few matches. With business-end of the tournament coming up, they need to pull up their socks and get back to their best, and if they can do that, they'll be certainly a force to deal with.
Daniel Bell-Drummond, Zak Crawley, Heino Kuhn, Faf du Plessis, Sam Billings, Alex Blake, Oliver Robinson, Hardus Viljoen, Fred Klaassen, Imran Qayyum, Mitchell Claydon.
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Essex Eagles comfortably have the lowest net run rate amongst all sides still in contention for the playoffs and would need a miracle to qualify even if they post a big win in the upcoming contest. For the Spitfires, however, a win should be enough to take them through to the next round. At one time in the tournament, Kent Spitfires were supremely placed at the top of the South Group table, but the loss of momentum in the back-end of the league stage pushed them into the position they currently are. Having said that, they have been a better side than the Eagles in the tournament on the whole and have a better-balanced team, at least on paper. Therefore, we think that they are better placed to emerge on top on Friday, consequently securing a quarter-final spot for themselves.
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