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|RN ten Doeschate||0||3||0||0||0.00|
|Jofra Chioke Archer||3.4||0||24||3||6.55|
|Jofra Chioke Archer||24||18||1||1||133.33|
The Vitality Blast 2018 is about to get underway and one of the most highly awaited games on opening day will be the encounter between Essex and Sussex. Both the sides are quality T20 sides and have bolstered their squad from last time. Essex missed the knockout stage last year after five years and will be looking to make amends. The Sussex Sharks, on the other hand, are being rated as one of the dark horses of this tournament. Which team will start its campaign off the right foot?
The Essex Eagles finished 8th in the previous edition of the T20 Blast which has to be considered a failed campaign. The team was billed as one to watch before the tournament began but they failed to convert that promise into performance.
That poor result has led to the induction of Mascarenhas into the coaching staff and the recruitment of Adam Zampa and Peter Siddle to boost the bowling. Every T20 team worth its salt has to have a leg-spinner and Adam Zampa will hope to be that player for Essex this year.
He has been playing in the Essex league for over a month and is very hungry to prove himself. We like the addition of Peter Siddle to the team as well. Both the Aussies will provide a solid boost to Essex.
A major part of the reason that Essex failed to do well was its batting. Varun Chopra scored 427 runs in the season and was the third highest six hitter in the entire competition. Those are some impressive stats but even after having a player like Varun Chopra in its squad, Essex was able to post a collective total of four fifties.
Have the Essex Eagles boosted their batting for this campaign? Not really. They will be hoping that players like Ravi Bopara and Ten Doeschate have a better season this time around otherwise their bowling will struggle to defend small totals once again.
Essex is banking on experience and calm heads to provide it the victories it needs this season. We are not sure that is the right way forward because the experienced players may become a weight around its shoulders rather than help propel Essex forward.
Varun Chopra, Adam Wheater, Tom Westley, RS Bopara, RN ten Doeschate, Ashar Zaidi, SR Harmer, Matt Coles, Adam Zampa, Jamie Porter, Samuel Cook.
The Sussex Sharks are one of the sides that people will be queuing up to watch this season. Rashid Khan, who will be available for the first six matches, will be the star attraction after having weaved his magic around the globe.
He is not the only T20 bowling star in this side. Sussex Sharks also have Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan, Tymal Mills, and Danny Briggs to call upon. We don’t think any other team in Vitality Blast 2018 will be able to put together the kind of lineup that the Sussex Sharks have.
Sussex, though, have suffered from a few injuries that have left their batting a little weak, Stiann van Zyl has been injured and is not going to play a part in this competition while Chris Nash has departed from Nottinghamshire as well.
Nash’s 520 runs last season was integral to the Sussex Sharks and replacing him is not going to be easy.
Tom Bruce, a promising hard-hitting all-rounder from New Zealand has been roped in to boost the bowling while players like Laurie Evans will be expected to fill in at the top. Sussex also has the advantage of having Jason Gillespie in their corner. He is one of the smartest T20 coaches going around and should be able to extract the maximum from this team.
With the lack of batting strength around him, it is Tom Bruce, rather than Rashid Khan that will be the most integral to Sussex’s fortunes. We are also looking forward to seeing Jofra Archer bat up the order and prove his potential as an all-rounder.
The Sussex Sharks finished fifth last season and narrowly missed going to the knock-out stages. A good start to their campaign will be essential in a year where they are expected to be around at the business end of the tournament.
Philip Salt, Laurie Evans, Tom Bruce, Michael Burgess , D Wiese, Jofra Chioke Archer, Rashid Khan, Will beer, Ollie Robinson, LJ Wright, Danny Briggs.
The team winning the toss is likely to bat first
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A mostly sunny day with some clouds around has been predicted for the match day. The current weather forecast suggests a 20% chance of rain so we may have some showers. The pitch at Chelmsford, though, is expected to be very good for batting. It will come on to the ball nicely and if anything grip a little because of all the sun that has been around over the last few days.
A par score should be in the range of 170.
Teams in the Vitality Blast 2018 are expected to be closely bunched together and so every win is going to be important. As Sussex knows, it can be the small margins that come into play later on. We are going to go with the better bowling attack in this game and back the away team to win.
Back Sussex Sharks to win.