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|AB de Villiers||52||34||3||2||152.94|
We are into the second last day of the league stage in the Vitality T20 Blast, and the South Group points table is in excellent shape with seven teams still fighting it out for the three remaining playoff spots. Amongst those seven sides, Middlesex and Hampshire are set to lock horns for two crucial points on Thursday, 29th August at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton. Historically, Hampshire have been a better side than Middlesex and have 18-11 head to head record over the Panthers. This trend continued in this edition of the tournament as well as Hampshire defeated Middlesex with considerable ease when the two sides met each other earlier in the competition. With Middlesex gaining some momentum in their last few matches and high reward on offer for a win, we expect them to come stronger this time around. A cracker of a contest is undoubtedly on the cards.
Hampshire had a decent start to the competition, but ever since Mason Crane got injured, Hampshire lost all the momentum they had. They are hanging by thinnest of threads as far as qualification for the next round is concerned. Although the net run rate won't be a big concern for them, they still would need to win both their remaining fixtures and hope for the other results to go their way to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Coming from behind in their previous match, they managed to salvage a tie by hitting 41 runs in the final three overs. In case they manage to win their remaining two fixtures, this tie could prove to be a pivotal result as far as their fate in the tournament is concerned.
On the whole, their batting has struggled in the tournament so far, but Sam Northeast's splendid knock of 73 should imbibe at least a bit of confidence amongst their players. On paper, they have a reasonably well-balanced unit consisting of James Vince, Rilee Rossouw, and Sam Northeast, but lack of consistent performances and inability to thrive under pressure has cost them matches on numerous occasions.
Unlike their batting, their bowling has done a reasonable job with the likes of Kyle Abbott, Chris Morris, and Liam Dawson contributing consistently. Additionally, Hampshire have a terrific record over Middlesex in the last five matches, winning four of them, which should give a massive boost to their confidence.
Aneurin Donald, J Vince, Rilee Rossouw, Sam Northeast, LA Dawson, James Fuller, Lewis McManus, Tabraiz Shamsi, KY Abbott, Mason Crane, CP Wood.
Just a week ago, Middlesex were the prime candidates to qualify for the quarter-finals, but a couple of back to back defeats has undoubtedly hurt their chances to be eligible for the next round. They currently stand at the fifth spot at the points table and would need to win both of their two remaining fixtures to ascertain their place in the playoffs. Their superb net run rate of +0.206 certainly gives them an advantage, which could come in handy in case they manage to win only one match from their remaining two and things get tighter.
In the last match, against the table-toppers Sussex Sharks, Middlesex batted reasonably well and racked up 171 runs in 20 overs. While the total was pretty good, particularly on that surface, the bowlers failed to execute their plans and gave away too many runs early in the innings. Toby Roland Jones being hit for 34 runs in his two overs was probably the turning point of the match after which the Panthers never looked like defending that total.
AB de Villiers had a significant role to play for Middlesex Panthers in the earlier part of the tournament, and with him returning to play the final two league fixtures, the Panthers' batting unit looks as strong as it ever was. AB de Villiers has been fantastic in the tournament so far and has the highest batting average, of 84.33, in this year's T20 Blast. The presence of Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan in their lineup will only make things difficult for their opponents' bowlers.
PR Stirling, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, AB de Villiers, Mohammad Hafeez, John Simpson, Toby Roland-Jones, George Scott, Thomas Helm, Nathan Sowter, ST Finn.
While it is a high scoring venue and no total is safe to defend here, the high-pressure involved in this fixture is likely to tempt the captain winning the toss to bat first.
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
The Ageas Bowl at Southampton has generally been a high-scoring venue and scoring of over 200 being scored is a real possibility. Having said that, the match is likely to be played on a used surface, the pace offered by the wicket is expected to reduce as the game progresses. Therefore, despite the short boundaries, the team bowling first will not want to chase anything more than 190 on this surface.
Check out the Dream11 fantasy team for the Vitality T20 match to be played between Middlesex Panthers and Hampshire
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With a likely quarter-final spot hanging on the result, the significance of this match cannot be overstated. While Hampshire enjoy a terrific head to head record over Middlesex, the Panthers have been a better side in the tournament so far. The availability of AB de Villiers will also be a big boost to their confidence as well as team balance. Comparing the recent form of the two sides, there's little to choose between the two. Having said that, the Panthers have a better-balanced side with explosive batsmen available right throughout their lineup, who all are capable of singlehandedly changing the course of the match on their day. For those reasons, we think that the Panthers have a better chance to emerge on top in this all-important fixture on Thursday.
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