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A loss for Sussex Sharks at the hands of Essex Eagles reduced the deficit between them and the fourth-placed team and another loss here could take away the top of the table position from them. With 14 and 13 points respectively to their name, Kent Spitfires and Middlesex Panthers are breathing down their neck, and all it would take is one good result for either of those two sides to displace Sharks from the top. That is possible in the next fixture of the tournament wherein Middlesex Panthers are poised to take on Sussex Sharks. The match is scheduled to be played on 24th August at Uxbridge Cricket Club Ground in Uxbridge.
Despite the absence of a couple of key players from their squad, Middlesex Panthers have done well as a team. Dawid Malan has been a stalwart figure from them; scoring runs in heaps and that too whenever the team needed those runs.
Malan is the highest run-scorer for them with a total of 393 runs to his name at an exceptional strike-rate of over 145. He is also third in the list of highest runs scorers in the tournament so far. The presence of Eoin Morgan in the middle-order adds balance as well as strength to their middle order, which all of a sudden began appearing to be a little fragile in the absence of AB de Villiers.
On the bowling front, Toby Roland Jones has been phenomenal for them and has picked up 17 wickets an average of just around 15. The likes of Steven Finn and Nathan Sowter have played a perfect second-fiddle to him, making their bowling unit a well-round and consequently a dangerous group to deal with. With explosive, hard-hitting batsmen available at their disposal, who are capable of destroying any bowling on their day, coupled with a lethal in-form bowling attack, this Panthers' side can be a tough customer to deal with on Saturday, even for the table-toppers.
PR Stirling, Dawid Malan, Stephen Eskinazi, Eoin Morgan, Mohammad Hafeez, John Simpson, George Scott, Toby Roland-Jones, Thomas Helm, Nathan Sowter, ST Finn.
With 15 points to their name, courtesy six wins and just two losses in 11 games, Sussex Sharks are sitting pretty at the top of the South Group ladder. In addition to their excellent position, they have a net run rate of +0.709, which speaks volumes about how dominant they've been in the tournament so far.
Their batting has rocked and rolled primarily because of some splendid knocks by their premier top-order batsman in Phillip Salt. Luke Wright and Laurie Evans have played well too, making their already sharp batting lineup looker even stronger.
With fourteen wickets from eight matches, Reece Topley's role has been vital in taking them to the position they are currently in. He did well against Essex Eagles as well, picking up two wickets for 32 in his four overs. Bowling, on the whole, did well against the Eagles, but it was their batting which faltered in the previous match. Barring Laurie Evans, David Wiese, and Chris Jordan, none of their batsmen scored in double digits, and the Sharks fell short by nine runs in their chase of 168.
Philip Salt, LJ Wright, Laurie Evans, Alex Carey, D Wiese, Ben Brown, Chris Jordan, Will Beer, Danny Briggs, R Topley, Ollie Robinson.
Check out the Dream11 fantasy team prediction for the Vitality T20 Blast match, which is to be played between Middlesex Panthers and Sussex Sharks
It's an important fixture for both sides. A win here will strengthen their respective position in the points table whereas a loss here could put the chances of the losing team's qualification in jeopardy, though it is unlikely. Sussex Sharks appear to be struggling with injuries to their couple of key players which proved to be a significant factor in their loss to Essex Eagles. Middlesex Panthers, too, are coming off a deflating defeat to Hampshire and might be a tad low on confidence. It's pretty hard to separate the two teams performance-wise in the tournament so far, but with a slightly better side on paper, we think that the Panthers will emerge on top in this crucial upcoming fixture of the competition.
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