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Middlesex and Essex are locked in a tight tussle to avoid the wooden spoon in the South Group this year. Vitality Blast 2018 has not been the success that both these teams may have imagined before the start of the tournament. Both teams have two matches to try and salvage some points and some pride. Currently, Middlesex with two wins in the competition is below Essex and Hampshire who both have one win only.
The record of both Middlesex and Essex suggests that this match is being played between evenly matched teams so we are hoping for a scrap to the finish.
A creditable batting performance from Middlesex in the last game helped them put up a good fight against Kent. In the end, though, the Middlesex bowlers were not good enough to defend 189 and the batsmen were left to rue the extra 10-15 runs they could have gotten while batting.
Dawid Malan, no longer a part of the England side, finds himself at the top of the order for Middlesex. He played a decent inning of 36 from 19 deliveries against Kent which included three sixes. His partner, Paul Stirling, hit seven boundaries in his 21 ball stay and raised hope of another Stirling special but eventually fell short in an all too familiar manner.
Eoin Morgan seems to be on autopilot during the Vitality Blast and continues his tradition of not being a consistent enough contributor to his county.
It’s a grim looking batting order that Middlesex has to depend on to find some points in the next two matches. Malan is down on confidence but has a point to prove, Stirling is just too inconsistent, and Morgan is not tuned in mentally.
The likes of Simpson, Eskinazi, and Franklin are not going to win too many T20 games on their own and need some support from the top-order. In a situation like this, Essex will fancy its bowlers getting the better of Middlesex.
Middlesex’s own bowling is very underwhelming. Barber, Patel, Fuller, Harris, Malan, Franklin, and Stirling all bowled in the last match. None of them looked likely to pick up top-order wickets and none of them stemmed the run flow.
Middlesex needs to outscore Essex because we don’t think its bowling is going to be able to defend a par total.
PR Stirling, Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, John Simpson, Stephen Eskinazi, James Franklin, George Scott, James Fuller, James Harris, Nathan Sowter, ST Finn.
The tournament is about to end and Essex still has not found a batsman that can give Varun Chopra the kind of support he needs. Chopra has more than 400 runs in the tournament and has set up the platform for his side on most occasions but that still has not translated into wins for his team.
Against Middlesex, which has a relatively weak bowling attack, Chopra and the other batsmen must be hoping to get a big total on the board.
Wheater, Walter, and Bopara are the batsmen that Essex will have some hopes from. Ten Doeschate is also in the middle order but we don’t think he is in any kind of form to be able to contribute to the team.
Bopara, who has played the role of finisher, has been wasted by the side. He should be pushed up to number three or four to try and have more impact on the inning and try to influence the result decisively.
Essex also has a couple of good bowlers in its side that will fancy themselves against a struggling Middlesex lineup. Adam Zampa, Peter Siddle, Simon Harmer, and Ashar Zaidi are all pretty decent bowlers.
Give them a score to defend and we would definitely back them to do it against a side like Middlesex.
Adam Wheater, Varun Chopra, Paul Walter, RN ten Doeschate, RS Bopara, Dan Lawrence, Ashar Zaidi, SR Harmer, Matt Coles, Peter Siddle, Samuel Cook.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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Plenty of rain has been forecast in London on match day but it is expected to clear up around the time the match starts. Hopefully, the drainage at Lord’s will do its magic and allow us to have a full game. The chance of an interrupted game with a reduction in overs is pretty high, though.
The pitch is expected to be good for batting and a score of around 180 should be seen as par.
Essex seems to have the better bowling attack and even though both sides are in poor form, we think the presence of Varun Chopra at the top of the order should tilt things Essex’s way.
Back Essex to win.