About the Match
One of the form teams of the tournament, the Leicestershire Foxes, takes on a team coming off an impressive win, the Birmingham Bears (Warwickshire) in the extremely closely fought NatWest T20 Blast 2017. If there is anything that the tournament has taught us so far then it's that any team is capable of beating any other team and it is very difficult to go on prolonged winning streaks.
A tough D/L loss in the last game finally broke the unbeaten record that the Foxes had been enjoying up until then. The loss was tough because Leicestershire had control of the match for most of the chase but lost a wicket at just the wrong time before the rain came down.
They now have a tough assignment against Warwickshire as they attempt to quickly get back to winning. The close nature of the North Group is such that just a couple of more losses could see Leicestershire slip down from the top-4 quite easily.
It is no coincidence that the Foxes lost their first game just as their skipper Clint McKay had to sit out the game with a niggle. He should be back for this game and that will be crucial because he is the leading wicket-taker of the competition with 12 wickets and has been absolutely inspirational for Leicestershire.
The Clint McKay led bowling attack also has the dependable Callum Parkinson and Mathew Pillans to fall back upon, making this a very dangerous bowling attack.
Explosive batsmen like Luke Ronchi and Mark Cosgrove also provide enough firepower to chase down totals alongside Colin Ackerman, Cameron Delport, and the others.
With still only one fifty for the entire team in this year’s campaign, the Leicestershire batsmen must make sure that they are converting their starts into big scores.
What a difference a couple of players can make in this format of the game! Warwickshire brought in Ed Pollock for their last game and finally sent Colin de Grandhomme up the order to score some rapid runs. The result? A hundred run opening partnership between Hain and Pollock after which de Grandhomme provided the finishing blow with 65 runs from 28 deliveries.
It was an important win for the Bears that were looking like drifting away from the pack and we think they will continue similar tactics this time around.
These are high-risk tactics that are essential in the T20 game but they do not guarantee success at all and the underlying weaknesses of Warwickshire continue to exist. De Grandhomme is a very potent power hitter when he comes off but his success rate has been scratchy in the past.
It remains to be seen whether Porterfield, Bell, and Elliot can provide the same impetus if the power hitters in the Bears lineup fail.
The bowling line-up is also pretty settled thanks to Jeetan Patel, currently the second highest wicket taker in the game and an in-form Boyd Rankin. Grant Elliot picked up 4 wickets in the last game and he remains as canny a T20 bowler as ever.
It was also apparent just how much more potent their attack became when they had a big score to fall back upon.
Pitch and Conditions
A dry, cloudy day has been forecast for Leicestershire and we should be able to get in a complete match. The conditions are usually excellent for scoring at Grace Road, something that power hitters on both sides will definitely enjoy.
Leicestershire to win (If Clint McKay Plays, otherwise look to hedge your bets with Warwickshire)