About the Match
Manchester will see group leaders Hampshire play Lancashire, who are also in contention for the semi-finals. This will be an interesting match as Lancashire is trailing only by 3 points with 13 points from 10 matches. Hampshire, on the other hand is leading with 16 points from as many matches. Both the teams are equally matched in all forms. Having won convincingly in their last three matches, Hampshire is riding high on morale and will look to enter the semi-finals with a bang. Meanwhile, Lancashire too deserves a place in the final four and will want to comfortably do so. With so much at stake, this game is just like a virtual quarterfinal for Lancashire and a thrilling contest is definitely on the cards.
Lancashire, who is well and truly in contention for a semifinal spot is oozing with confidence. Their recent emphatic win over Scotland has boosted their hopes. Extraordinary performance by Kabir Ali, who took 3 wickets giving away only 33, combined by 2 crucial wickets by Chapple, restricted Scotland to a lowly 145. Tom Smith’s unbeaten 42 and Ashwell Prince’s run-a-ball 36 helped them register a comfortable win. During an earlier match against Derbyshire, Kabir Ali’s figures of 4-37 and Lilley’s 4-30 proved deadly for the opponents as usual. Openers Moore and Smith have been playing beautifully as well. Prince, with his unbeaten 80 runs off 75 balls against Derbyshire, brought the team a step closer to the semis. Lilley and Ali’s superb bowling form holds the key in this match.
Sitting at the top of the group, Hampshire has proved to be the masters in the one-day format. Having won recently in three key games, Hampshire is all charged up to complete the group matches without any loss. Against Surrey, it was Ervine who kept his cool and scored a match-winning 71 alongside Dimitri Mascarenhas. The two experienced players guided their team to victory, after a scary middle order collapse. Neil Mckenzie and Adams showed lot of courage earlier on by posting 55 runs for the 3rd wicket. Dimitri Mascarenhas took two crucial wickets and Ervine struck by taking a key wicket. Earlier matches also saw Sohail Tanvir exude tremendous confidence by taking 4 wickets against Essex and 2 wickets against Scotland. Well supported by Wood & Briggs, this bowling squad is a deadly force to reckon with.
Hampshire is bursting with energy and has a hunger to finish with convincing wins. Lancashire is no less of a formidable opponent and will pose some serious challenges to the leaders. With one match still to go after this crucial one, Lancashire will try and make the best use of its in-form bowlers and batsmen. A loss at this stage can dent the morale of either of the teams and both of them will put up a brave fight to avoid such a scenario. Which team will emerge with a triumph? Will it be Hampshire with its pack of veteran and young players who have done amazingly well so far or Lancashire who are surprising themselves in every match? It is a tough call to make, but I think that Hampshire, who look just ahead than Lancashire coming into the game, will once again win the battle of nerves and emerge victorious.
Hampshire, 2.25 @ Bet365