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Hampshire has been one of the better-performing sides in the history of English domestic cricket, but they would love to forget their 2018 campaign in Vitality T20 Blast. They were fortunate to not to finish at the bottom of the table last year as a couple of washouts helped them with a couple of points towards the end of the tournament. They are set to begin their campaign this year on 21st July, against Kent, at The Rose Bowl, their home ground. Kent are coming off a massive win over high-flying Somerset and won't be an easy team to deal with. While playing such intense matches on back to back days can drain energy out of even the fittest and it will be a hectic the visitors, a win in their previous game should boost their morale, and they'll, therefore, be itching to get going and garner as many points on the trot early in the competition.
Even though Hampshire had a fixture scheduled on 18th July, against Sussex Sharks, their upcoming fixture will be the first time they'll take the field in the competition as their match against Sussex was washed out due to rain. They'll be itching to get over their last year's performance and start on a winning note this year.
Hampshire have made a few changes to their side this year and now appear to be a superb side, at least on paper. Captained by James Vince, they have an explosive batting line-up with the likes of Rilee Rossouw, Sam Northeast, and Aneurin Donald available with the likes of Chris Morris and James Fuller available to bat in their lower-middle order.
Also, they have a pretty decent bowling attack with ample variations available as far as spinners and pacers are concerned. Chris Wood, Kyle Abbot, and Chris Morris have all done well while playing for their respective teams in recent times and will be looking to replicate their performance here as well. Liam Dawson and Mason Crane will be looking to use the assistance available on the surface, which is expected and could prove to be their trump card as Imran Qayyum emerged to be on the other day.
Rilee Rossouw, Aneurin Donald, J Vince, Sam Northeast, LA Dawson, James Fuller, Chris Morris, Lewis McManus, CP Wood, KY Abbott, Mason Crane.
Going into their last match, Kent were being regarded as the underdogs as compared to high-flying Somerset but surprised one and all with an inspiring performance as they defeated Somerset by a massive margin.
Batting first on a tricky batting surface, they got off to a rather poor start, losing both their openers within the first two overs. Mohammad Nabi and OG Robinson brought them back into the game with a solid 61-runs partnership before the former was dismissed for a personal score of 34. Even though Kent failed to finish with a flourish with Robinson getting dismissed just before the death overs, they got off to a total of 165 which was pretty reasonable, considering the start they had.
While the likes of Nabi and Robinson just kept them in the game, Imran Qayyum was the one who sealed the deal for Kent. He was responsible for sending six Somerset batsmen back to the pavilion. He returned with the figures of 5 for 21 in his four overs and man of the match award for his performance. Adam Milne wrapped up the tail quickly with a consecutive couple of wickets and finished with 15 for 2.
All in all, Kent look a fairly formidable unit with good experience available right through their lineup. They have a couple of good all-rounders who can contribute in both the departments, adding depth to their batting and variety to their bowling. While their first win came primarily on the back of individual performance from Imran Qayyum, they have a strong team and won't be easy to defeat going forward in the competition.
Daniel Bell-Drummond, Zak Crawley, Ollie Robinson, Mohammad Nabi, Alex Blake, Sean Dickson, JM Cox, Adam Milne, Hardus Viljoen, Imran Qayyum, Fred Klaassen.
With surface unlikely to change over the course of 40 overs and a low first innings average, the captain winning the toss is likely to put the opposition in.
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The Rose Bowl has historically been a high-scoring venue but hasn't yielded as many high scoring encounters in recent times. The string of low scores can be attributed to the high number of matches played here, rendering the surface a little slower than usual. The same was apparent in the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup as well wherein we didn't see as many high-scoring encounters as at the other venues. Over the last five T20 matches played here, the average first innings total is just a notch over 150, which speaks volumes about the nature of the surface. It's been bright and sunny throughout the day and barring the first couple of overs; there isn't likely to be enough assistance for the quick bowlers. Spinners, on the contrary, are expected to play a vital role. The team batting first should be pretty happy if they end up scoring a total of anything more than 170.
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Considering the lineups of both the sides on paper, it's expected to be a mouth-watering contest. While Hampshire have good experience available right throughout, the memories of their last year's performance will still be fresh in their minds. Kent, on the other hand, got off to a flying start and will be looking to march ahead and move to the top of the table. Hampshire are playing at home and familiarity with the conditions are going to be of considerable advantage at the surface which is not known to be as batting friendly as rest of the surfaces in England are. Hampshire have a more experienced batting lineup, and we expect them to rise to the occasion and gift their crowd with a win and consequently two crucial points on Sunday.
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