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We are down to a final few matches in the ongoing Vitality T20 Blast, and the race for the playoffs is far from over. The ladder in the South Group is in interesting shape with each of the top-five team distant from the next one by a difference of one point.
Middlesex Panthers are at the third spot in the points table and are set to take on Hampshire in their upcoming fixture. The match between the two sides is to be played at Lord's Cricket Ground, London, on 22nd August. Middlesex are sitting pretty in the top half of the table and thanks to their incredible net run-rate, a win here could push them to the top of the table. Hampshire, on the other hand, have struggled in the tournament and a win here won't change their position at the points table, but will still be of vital importance for them.
Hampshire are a better side between the two if compared on head-to-head matches between the two teams, but Middlesex have been in incredible recent form, and, therefore, we expect a terrific contest between these two solid sides.
Even though Middlesex's batsmen have been in and out of the squad due to injuries, be it AB de Villiers or Eoin Morgan, their performance has hardly been affected by it. The Panthers are comfortably placed at the third spot in the points table, and unless they play utterly poor cricket hereon, their qualification to the next round is nothing but guaranteed.
Their previous encounter, which was against Essex Eagles, was abandoned without a ball being bowled, wherein they had to stay content in sharing the points. In their match before that, against Gloucestershire, which too was a rain-hit encounter, they performed brilliantly as they got two crucial points by winning the game by nine runs.
Dawid Malan was excellent against Gloucestershire as he played a splendid knock of 91 runs. After having a decent start to the tournament, he was going through a relatively lean patch, and that knock should give him a lot of confidence. With Eoin Morgan likely to return to the squad after nursing an injury, the Panthers have a terrific batting lineup backed by a good enough bowling. With the kind of bowling they're in, it won't be easy for any team to get past them.
PR Stirling, Dawid Malan, Stephen Eskinazi, Eoin Morgan, Mohammad Hafeez, John Simpson, Toby Roland-Jones, Thomas Helm, Nathan Sowter, ST Finn, Tom Barber.
With three back to back defeats in their last three matches, the chances of qualification for Hampshire are now in jeopardy as they not only need to win almost all of their remaining games but also hope for the other results to fall precisely in place.
In the tournament so far, Hampshire have been mainly depended on their bowling to do the job with their batting not doing much. Their poor run with the bat continued in the last three matches as well where they failed to cross the total of 140 even once. With Lord's being a batting-friendly venue, their batsmen will need to step on the gas pedal for Hants to do well.
In the earlier part of the tournament, James Vince did well for them, but he hasn't been able to build on his performance. He has failed to carry on with his starts, having not scored a fifty in his last four innings. He is likely to play a crucial role for Hampshire to do well in the upcoming fixture.
Rilee Rossouw, J Vince, Sam Northeast, LA Dawson, Chris Morris, James Fuller, Lewis McManus, Ian Holland, Tabraiz Shamsi, KY Abbott, CP Wood.
Check out the Dream11 lineup for the Vitality T20 Blast fixture, which is to be played between Middlesex Panthers and Hampshire at Lord's Cricket Ground, London
While Middlesex batting has done exceedingly well in the tournament so far, the absence of AB de Villiers is likely to be felt big time. Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan will have to step up alongside their other batsmen, who have done reasonably well up until now. Hampshire, on the other hand, have struggled to do anything of substance with the bat. They need to bring up their A-game to challenge high-flying Middlesex, who are also playing at home. With a better performing team, strong batting lineup, and the home advantage, we think that the Panthers are better placed to emerge on top in this upcoming fixture.
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