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Despite a heart-wrenching defeat at the hands of Sussex Sharks, Kent Spitfires continue to be at the top of the South Group table in Vitality T20 Blast which speaks volumes about their dominance in the tournament so far. They are set to take on Hampshire in their next encounter which is to be played at Beckenham on 4th August. Hampshire too aren't far behind in the points table and while a win here won't take them to the top of the table, it will certainly bring them close to it. For both the sides, a win here will strengthen their position at the top of the table, while a loss here will allow other teams an opportunity to take their position and therefore both the sides will look to finish first in this encounter as well.
Kent started their campaign in a spectacular fashion, toppling the favorites Somerset rather clinically. They continued to build on their first win with four more wins in their four subsequent matches, and their winning streak was stopped only when they met Sussex in their last fixture.
It was the battle of two unbeaten sides in the tournament when Sharks met Spitfires wherein Sharks eventually went onto outclass Kent Spitfires. Batting first on a reasonably good surface, Kent Spitfires' batsmen failed to get going, something which was a rare sight up until now, and ended up putting just 154 runs on the board. Daniel Bell Drummond top-scored for them with a half-century, but with no contribution from the rest of the players, he could do only so much.
Defending such a low score on small grounds and excellent batting surface was never going to be easy, and hence it proved to be. Although there was only a little their bowlers could have done, they lacked accuracy and discipline after they failed to inflict early damage as the Sharks eventually cruised to a nine-wicket win.
Daniel Bell-Drummond, Zak Crawley, Oliver Robinson, Heino Kuhn, Mohammad Nabi, Alex Blake, JM Cox, Grant Stewart, Adam Milne, Hardus Viljoen, Fred Klaassen.
Hampshire didn't get off to the kind of start they were looking for but have certainly picked up in their last three matches. They come into the next game on the back of three comprehensive wins, over Somerset, Essex, and Glamorgan, in the same order.
While their encounter against Somerset can be termed as high-scoring, it wasn't the case in their two subsequent meetings. While it was largely because of not so batting-friendly conditions, their bowling certainly had a huge role to play. They reduced Essex Eagles to just 133 which they eventually chased down with considerable ease.
Against Glamorgan, they displayed a rather poor performance with the bat, scoring just 128 for 7 in their allotted 20 overs, but their bowlers bowled astonishingly well and bailed them out as they dismantled Glamorgan for only 87.
All in all, in the tournament so far, while their batting has been a little inconsistent, the consistency of their bowling has been impressive. More often than not, its been their bowlers who have set up matches for them and if their batsmen can step up in the upcoming fixtures, Hampshire will be a tough team to deal with.
Aneurin Donald, Rilee Rossouw, J Vince, Sam Northeast, LA Dawson, Chris Morris, James Fuller, Lewis McManus, CP Wood, KY Abbott, Brad Taylor.
These are still early days in the tournament, but the two sides have already met each other once. That South Group encounter between the two sides proved to be a feast for the fans as Kent just managed to get across the line with two wickets in hand in 19.5 overs. Kent are playing at home in this upcoming encounter and have plenty of positives going for them. Having said that, Hants' spinners have been superb in the last couple of matches and with surfaces beginning to get slower, they are likely to have a vital role to play. Considering that and the performance of the two sides in the last couple of matches, Hampshire are better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming encounter, not by much though.
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