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The Vitality Blast 2018 has reached the quarter-final stage and we have two excellent teams to start us off. Kent will be playing at home, not an insignificant advantage in tight games, and will host the somewhat unpredictable Lancashire team. Both teams won 8 matches in the group stages but while Lancashire lost five matches, Kent only lost two.
There are match winners on each side and the expectation is for a very tightly fought match to be played out. Will Kent be able to make full use of its home advantage or will Lancashire be able to raise its game for the big occasion?
Kent can be very proud of having done exceptionally well in a tough South Group. Their batting was terrific and a couple of their bowlers have had excellent seasons. Now, they must get everyone to finish on a high and give their best in the knock-outs.
The Kent batting has been a revelation this season. They have scored in excess of 200 more than 7 times indicating both the depth in their lineup and the beautiful batting surfaces provided to them at the St. Lawrence Ground.
Leading the charge for the teams will be Joe Denly and Bell-Drummond at the top of the order. Both of them have been spectacular this season and provided Kent with some terrific starts. They put on 98 together in Kent’s last group match while chasing a total of 203 effectively ending the game there itself.
Backing these two will be Kuhn, Billings, and Blake. These three have also had good seasons and skipper Sam Billings, in particular, has been prolific for Kent after being dropped from the England limited-overs sides this year.
Kent has relied on its batting to boss the opposition and that is exactly what they will hope to do to Lancashire.
Equally important for Kent’s success has been its bowling which has been led by Adam Milne. The New Zealander has stood out in this lineup for his control, excellent economy rate, and the ability pick up wickets.
Adam Milne has bowled at the ground with the worst economy rate for all grounds this season as his home venue and come out with flying colors. His battle with the Lancashire batsmen will be very crucial to the outcome of the game. Joe Denly has been in the wickets as well but everyone else will also have to have a good game against a strong Lancashire batting side.
Joe Denly, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Heino Kuhn, Sam Billings, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Blake, Sean Dickson, Calum Haggett, Adam Milne, Mitchell Claydon, Imran Qayyum.
A comprehensive defeat in the last group game that Lancashire played would have deflated their spirits a little but T20 cricket is not one to brood over. The team needs to regroup and look to go hard at Kent, who is going to be very tough to beat at home.
Lancashire is going to need its batsmen to fire and in the absence of Liam Livingstone, a lot of their batting strength lies with Alex Davies. He has over 500 runs in this year’s Vitality Blast and has been absolutely brilliant for Lancashire.
Unfortunately, if he gets out early then the team can often wilt with him. Players like Brown, Lilley, Vilas, and Croft have had a few good days and some vital contributions but Kent will know that getting Davies is half the game in the bag.
While the batting for Lancashire has been a little jittery, as evidenced by their 102 all out in the last group match against Birmingham, their bowling is pretty decent.
Matt Parkinson has been one of the leading wicket-takers this season and his wrist-spin has only improved as the season has gone on. James Faulkner has had a couple of excellent bowling performances although his death bowling is not quite what it used to be. Zahir Khan from Afghanistan has also shown the ability to befuddle batsmen with his left-arm wrist spin but he too needs to work on his consistency a bit.
Overall, there are quite a few attacking wicket-taking options in this team and they will need them against a strong Kent batting side.
Alex Davies, Jos Buttler, Arron Lilley, KK Jennings, DJ Vilas, Steven Croft, Jordan Clark, James Faulkner, Toby Lester, Matt Parkinson, Zahir Khan.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
Read our guide on toss predictions to learn how we analyze and come up with our tips.
Some rain has been forecast on the morning of match day but the weather is expected to get a lot better in the evening. There is a chance of some light showers to interrupt the match but hopefully nothing serious.
The pitch at St. Lawrence is an absolute batting paradise. The batsmen will love the ball coming on to the bat nicely and the bowlers will have to do something special to avoid being carted. The outfield is fast, boundaries are small, and we can be sure of a lot of sixes being hit.
A score of around 190 should be considered par.
Kent and Lancashire met in the quarter-finals in 2015 when Lancashire won quite easily. This time around, though, we think Kent will have its revenge.
Back Kent to win.