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Right from the beginning of the tournament, there's one team that has been dominant throughout the competition as far as the North Group of Vitality T20 Blast is concerned - Lancashire. Lancashire are flying high at the top of the table, and their qualification for the playoffs look certain. They'll be looking to put a final nail in the coffin when they take on Yorkshire on 9th August at Old Trafford, Manchester. Yorkshire started the tournament well, but they haven't been able to keep their momentum going and are currently languishing in the bottom of the table. With just a few matches remaining in the league stage, both the sides will be looking to get a move on, Yorkshire more so, and we expect a cracking contest between the two teams on Friday.
Lancashire have played seven matches in the tournament so far and have lost two. Unlike what a lot of sides have experienced, they are yet to lose a game in the competition. They are in a position to dictate terms with five wins to their name amounting to a total of 12 points.
They are coming off yet another convincing win in their last match, this time over Nottinghamshire, where their bowlers bailed them out in an incredible game of cricket. Going in against Nottinghamshire, Lancashire were fighting history - they had never beaten Nottinghamshire in a T20 match before and it needed Glenn Maxwell special for them to turn the tide in their favor.
Contrary to what they've been doing so fluently in the tournament, Lancashire got off to a disastrous start after they chose to bat after winning the toss. They were reeling at 45 for four midway through their innings, and it was about the time Glenn Maxwell started taking charge. He started relishing Notts' bowling and partnered with Dane Vilas as the duo smashed 107 runs in the last 66 deliveries to take them to a respectable total.
Just like their batting, their bowling had been doing well in the tournament, and they didn't need to do anything fancy to restrict the Outlaws. Thanks to superb bowling in the earlier overs, the Outlaws were left to chase 30 off the last two overs, but splendid final over from James Faulkner, who defended just 12, eventually became the difference between the two sides as Lancashire won the match by three runs.
Playing 11 not yet available.
Yorkshire once again failed to seal the deal after coming so close in their last match. Consequently, they had to share points with Birmingham Bears and are now sitting at the third spot from the bottom with a total of five points to their name. Like the last one, most of their matches have been closely fought, which is evident by their positive net run-rate of 0.102.
They failed to hold their nerves yet again as Birmingham Bears snatched a tie from the jaws of defeat in their last encounter. Bowling first, Yorkshire Vikings restricted the Bears on a total score of 177, a pretty decent job by the bowlers on that surface. David Willey, Duanne Olivier, and, JW Shutt were their only three successful bowlers. Willey and Shutt picked up a wicket each while Olivier got rid of two scalps.
At the midway stage, it all looked set for Yorkshire with 88 runs already on the board, but they somehow managed to lose their way - the story of their campaign so far. Barring Tom Kohler Cadmore, who scored unbeaten 76 off 54, and Adam Lyth, who contributed with 40 runs, none of their batsmen were able to handle the pressure of a must-win game as the Yorks collapsed despite a fairy-tale start. Although Yorkshire have a terrific side on paper, the lack of ability to handle pressure situations and finish games has cost them. They need to find out a way to deal with those situations, and if they can do that, they'll be a tough nut to crack in the upcoming fixtures.
Playing 11 not yet available.
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On paper, there's not much to separate the two sides. Yorkshire have an experienced and in-form opening pair, and the same goes for Lancashire. However, it's the experience, handling the pressure, and the ability to close games from tough situations is what has worked for them. As seen in the tournament up until now, Lancashire are better equipped to handle the pressure and have the momentum of five good wins behind them. For those reasons, we think that Lancashire are better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming fixture.
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