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|Matthew David Taylor||4.0||0||46||1||11.50|
Gloucestershire won its first match of the Vitality Blast 2018 and will be hosting the Kent Spitfires for their next assignment. Kent is currently unbeaten in the tournament after two wins from its two matches. Bristol, which will be hosting this match, was the venue of the last T20 international between England and India where 400 runs were scored with ease. Two strong batting lineups on a small ground and a good pitch have us licking our lips in anticipation.
Chasing a par total against Middlesex could have been tricky for Gloucestershire but it Michael Klinger played a typical Klinger inning of 58 and ensured there were no hiccups. A few cameos from Hammond and Taylor finished off the chase with plenty of overs to spare.
A win early in the campaign helps settle the nerves for the entire squad but there were a few more positives for Gloucestershire. The first and the biggest was the form of Michael Klinger. He got a start in the first game and did not carry on but corrected that in the second game.
Klinger may have retired from first-class cricket in Australia but he still has plenty of gas in the tank. The timing of his shots and the ease with which he manipulated the bowling will make every single bowler in Kent take notice.
Klinger has taken to be the kind of batsman that plays an anchor role. He needs other batsmen around him to create momentum. That is exactly what Hammond was able to do with eight boundaries in twenty-one balls. It remains to be seen if he can continue batting in the same manner but we can certainly see Gloucestershire backing him for the next few matches.
Higgins, Taylor, Howell, and Perera make for a pretty decent middle order. There is power, experience, and the ability to counterattack that should serve Gloucestershire well in the upcoming games.
Early wickets from Payne and Taylor were instrumental in pushing back Middlesex in the last game. Gloucestershire will be hoping for the same against a Kent side that is pretty top heavy. Perera and Howell could struggle at Bristol because the small ground leaves absolutely no margin of error.
MAH Hammond, M Klinger, IA Cockbain, GH Roderick, Ryan Higgins, JW Taylor, KN Barnett, GLV Buuren, Tom Smith, DA Payne, MD Taylor.
Two wins out of two have put Kent near the top of the leaderboard at this early stage in the competition. Their last win came against a quality Somerset side that is generally very competitive in T20 cricket.
The reason behind the Kent Spitfire success so far has been its batting. Joe Denly scored a hundred in the first game while Heino Kuhn top-scored with 67 in the next one. Bell-Drummond also scored a fifty and Sam Billings was able to spend some time in the middle as well.
Kent has not had to use its middle order at all, which is not too shabby thanks to the presence of Blake, Braithwaite, and Dickson.
We have a feeling that the Kent batsmen will be lining up to play against the Gloucestershire bowling at Bristol because anyone who gets in can really take full toll. While the batting has been good, and it has, the bowling has not been too far behind either.
Adam Milne and Carlos Braithwaite, the two overseas players for Kent Spitfires right now, have been wreaking havoc with the ball. Braithwaite, whom we did not rate too highly with the ball, has picked up six wickets in two matches already. His line and length have been very good so far and he has incorporated a few changeups into his game as well.
Adam Milne, for us, is the real spearhead of the attack. He is bowling with fire and his four overs are not going to be easy for any team in this competition. With excellent contributions from Imran Qayyum, Joe Denly, and Haggett as well, this Kent bowling attack is far superior to what Gloucestershire can muster up.
Joe Denly, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Heino Kuhn, Sam Billings, Alex Blake, Carlos Brathwaite, Sean Dickson, Calum Haggett, Adam Milne, Imran Qayyum, Mitchell Claydon.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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The weather has continued to be brilliant and we hope to see another sunny day with no interruptions for this match. The pitch at Bristol is excellent with batting. Dry weather has forced the groundsman to leave a little bit of grass on the surface but that does not equate to any movement of the pitch. If anything, the ball tends to come on better.
The small dimensions of the ground will make things difficult for the spinners. A score of around 180 should be considered par.
Gloucestershire has beaten Kent in three out of the last five matches that they have played against each other. Both sides go into this match on the back of confident victories but we feel that Kent has a far superior side in this contest. Its batsmen are in form and the bowlers are breathing fire, Kent should be able to win this match with ease.
Back Kent to win.