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Lancashire made short work of Derbyshire in its last match as they rode Liam Livingstone’s magnificent century to victory. Their opponents have lost their first two matches and are looking to turn things around quickly. Northamptonshire has suffered plenty of injuries to key players and has had to call in Kyle Coetzer as a last minute replacement to beef up their batting.
Can the Northamptonshire Steelbacks get their season up and running or will Lancashire Lighting add another win to their names?
There has been a lot of excitement around Liam Livingstone but his fans will also agree that his potential remains unfulfilled. He has the potential to turn the Vitality Blast 2018 into his personal stomping grounds, though, and his inning against a quality Derbyshire attack gave us a glimpse of that.
Now that Lancashire has registered its first win, it will want to build on that against a struggling Northants team. The most likely way for Lancashire to do that is on the back of its batting. Livingstone may have hogged the limelight with his hundred but Davies played well for a fifty as well.
Add to that the fifty that Jennings scored in the first game and suddenly most of Lancashire’s batting order is in good touch.
Lilley at number three seems like a bit of a stretch to us but maybe the management wants to give him some more opportunities. We would rather see Joe Clark in that position especially that Dane Vilas is there to prop up the lower order.
On paper, Lancashire’s batting is far better than what Northamptonshire is going to be able to put together.
The Lancashire bowling has got off to a rough start in the tournament. James Faulkner is not having the kind of impact that is expected of an overseas player, while Graham Onions is looking surprisingly docile.
There was a time when Onions was one of the regulars in the England national set-up but that form seems eons away. Even Parkinson’s leg spin has not quite been very effective. We will always be worried when Lancashire’s bowling is put under pressure so it is probably best for them that they are going to be playing a depleted batting side.
Alex Davies, Liam Livingstone, Arron Lilley, KK Jennings, DJ Vilas, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, James Faulkner, SD Parry, Matt Parkinson, Toby Lester.
Kyle Coetzer to add to the batting. The Scottish captain will be a welcome addition to the team that is missing three of its first-choice players to injury.
Rob Keogh, Adam Rossington, and Rob Newton are all missing out because of various injuries and it will probably be some time before they can make a comeback.
Even with so many players missing, though, it is creditable that Northants scored 219 in one game and over 160 in the other. Ben Duckett batting at the top of the order has 184 runs from these two matches and has been single-handedly carrying the Northants batting. He has hit 21 boundaries and 7 sixes to send out an early warning to all other teams.
Northants needs its other batsmen to start providing support to Duckett, though, because there is no way that he can continue to score so heavily in each and every game. Wakely and Cobb scored fifties in the first game and can be looked at for some further contributions in the upcoming matches.
Perhaps the biggest letdown has been Richard Levi. He had an excellent series last time around but has struggled in white ball cricket this season. His poor start to the Vitality Blast 2018 will not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following country cricket closely.
If Levi can spend some time in the middle and get back some form then Northants will start to look like a completely different side.
As far as the bowling goes, Northants has struggled massively on that account. Seekkuge Prasanna was supposed to be their leg-spinning trump card but he clearly does not have the quality of someone like Rashid Khan.
Rory Kleinveldt continues to be good at the death but he is also nearing the end of his career and his pace has certainly dropped. Sanderson with four wickets has emerged the early lead bowler for Northants.
Lancashire has a strong batting side and there is no doubt in our mind that Northants will be tested severely once again.
Richard Levi, Ben Duckett, Josh Cobb, Alex Wakely, Steven Crook, Ricardo Vasconcelos, S Prasanna, Rory Kleinveldt, Graeme White, Ben Sanderson, Brett Hutton.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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The current weather forecast suggests only a 10% chance of rain for match day. In all likelihood, we should have a clear day and uninterrupted cricket once again. The pitch at Old Trafford is excellent for batting. The onus to win this match will fall on the batsmen from both sides.
Expect a score of around 170 to be par.
Lancashire and Northamptonshire have won two matches each out of the last four completed matches between them. The form for both teams going into this match is dramatically different, though. Lancashire seems to be a better side in all aspects of the game right now especially that Northants is depleted because of injury.
Back Lancashire to win.
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