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The North Group is shaping up to be tightly contested this year as most of the teams are currently separated by just a couple of wins. Lancashire sits at the top of the table, thanks to their superior net run rate, and will be taking on Yorkshire, another team that could find itself at the top of the table if it wins this match. Matches between Lancashire and Yorkshire have been keenly contested traditionally as the two counties count each other as their greatest rivals.
Lancashire came into the Vitality Blast 2018 with a lot of questions over its white ball cricket. Thankfully, though, for the county, they have managed to string together four consecutive victories after a loss in their opening match.
The batting for Lancashire has stood out in all of its contests so far as the reason behind its success. The top-order has stood up to the demands of the contest extremely well and scored runs consistently. Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone both have already scored more than 200 runs to their name.
In the case of Livingstone, not only is he scoring runs consistently but he is also getting them at a furious pace. His strike rate of 183.33 is the best for Lancashire batsmen and he has also hit 13 sixes already in the tournament as well.
The batting unit of Livingstone, Davies, Lilley, Jennings, Vilas, and Clark is very solid with Faulkner down the order to bail out the side if needed. Yorkshire will have a tough time keeping this batting unit in check.
Also available for this match will be one of the world’s most fearsome T20 batsman, Jos Buttler. It will be interesting to see where he bats because it will upset Lancashire’s settled side but we expect him to slot in at the top of the order.
The bowling has done pretty well for Lancashire as well. Faulkner, Lester, Parkinson, and Onions (when available) have done well for Lancashire on the bowling front. They have ensured that opposition teams are unable to score huge totals. Even Livingstone has been picking up wickets regularly and has six to his name already. Jimmy Anderson is expected to play for Lancashire in this match.
We have a feeling that opposition teams are going too hard at the Lancashire bowling worried about the number of runs they need against their batting.
Jos Buttler, Alex Davies, Liam Livingstone, KK Jennings, DJ Vilas, Jordan Clark, Arron Lilley, James Faulkner, SD Parry, Toby Lester, Matt Parkinson.
The emergence of Durham and the horror starts by Northamptonshire and Derbyshire has made the North group very tight at the top. Yorkshire with three wins from four matches risks falling to 5th if it loses this match and could climb to the top if it wins.
Yorkshire has progressed well in the tournament so far thanks to its batsmen as well. Four of its batsmen have got off to a good start in the tournament lending solidity to the side. David Willey, who has been absent from the side due to international commitments, should be available for the Vitality Blast 2018 soon enough.
Lyth, Tate, Tattersall, and Balance all have scored more than 130 runs in the tournament already. Their strike rate is also very impressive with each one of the four mentioned batsmen striking at over 140. Joe Root is also going to be a part of this match now that his England commitments are over. He is in tremendous form and will pose the biggest threat to the Lancashire bowling.
Kane Williamson, the only overseas player for Yorkshire has also arrived and is expected to play his first match of the tournament.
Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, and David Willey are all expected to start this match making the Yorkshire unit immeasurably more powerful.
Yorkshire has done well in the tournament without having most of its first choice squad available due to injuries or international commitments. The challenge now will be to find a balanced lineup quickly while allowing the influx of talent the freedom to perform.
Adam Lyth, David Willey, JE Root, KS Williamson, GS Ballance, Jonathan Tattersall, TT Bresnan, LE Plunkett, AU Rashid, Azeem Rafiq, SA Patterson.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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The match is going to be played Old Trafford, Manchester, where the pitch is going to be very batsman friendly. Some rain has been forecast for match day so we could see some interruptions and a truncated match being played out. Hopefully, the weather gods will be kind and let this highly awaited match take place without any stoppages.
Two strong batting lineups on a flat batting pitch should make for a high scoring match. Consider anything around 180 as par.
Both teams are in good form heading into this contest. We think that Lancashire has a better batting side, especially with Buttler available to play, and should win this contest in front of its home crowd.
Back Lancashire to win.