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These are early days in the Vitality T20 Blast, but the points on the board matter nonetheless. The battles between the teams placed at the top of the table are always interesting and we are about to witness one with Northamptonshire Steelbacks set to take on Birmingham Bears in the upcoming T20 Blast match. The match between the two sides is to be played at County Ground, Northampton, on 1st September 2020.
The Steelbacks continued to build on their merry way in the tournament as they registered a close win over Somerset. The win pushed them to the top of the North Group table, which looks jam-packed with many teams tied at three points breathing down the Northants' neck. The Steelbacks win in their first match that was against Gloucestershire ensured that Northants' net run-rate stays high, which currently is 1.352.
The Northants' win was possible only due to a gritty knock by Adam Rossington, who continued to play with an injured hand. Rossington slammed a terrific half-century, which played a pivotal role in taking his team's total to 171, which proved to be just enough for Somerset. Rossington was ably assisted by Joshua Cobb and Saif Zaib, who both played important knocks. After a couple of quick wickets in the powerplay, Cobb combined with Rossington to lay a solid platform, which could be used to launch a late-assault. While Rossington himself scored pretty quickly, Saif Zaib's quickfire knock of 28 off 13 proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Although Northants' got off to a pretty good start with Sanderson getting rid of Davies, they quickly found themselves on the backfoot as Bartlett and Hildreth brought Somerset back into the game. Gareth Berg then dismissed the pair in quick succession, which induced a collapse from which the Steelbacks could never recover. Graeme While played an excellent second fiddle to Berg in the middle overs as the pair picked up a couple of wickets each. Sanderson was the most successful bowler and he returned with the figures of 4-0-36-3.
Contrary to what was expected, Northamptonshire has gotten off to a fantastic start in the competition. They have a few tough matches up next, but given the form the Steelbacks are in, beating them is going to be difficult even for the toughest teams in the competition.
Richard Levi, PR Stirling, Josh Cobb, Ricardo Vasconcelos, Alex Wakely, Saif Zaib, Gareth Berg, Graeme White, Nathan Buck, Ben Sanderson, Brandon Glover.
After settling for a shared-point in their first match, Birmingham Bears got off the mark in the tournament with a fine win over Glamorgan. Birmingham, also known as Warwickshire, had a poor season last year and a win in the first match would have done them a world of good. They'll now be looking for yet another win to grab the top spot on the points table.
Birmingham Bears is one of the most experienced sides in the competition and they used their experience to perfection in their game against Glamorgan. The Bears' captain was quick to decipher the nature of the surface and his proactive changes in the field reflected that. He shuffled around his bowlers in a brilliant manner and that coupled with fantastic fielding display resulted in keeping Glamorgan to a manageable total. Tim Bresnan was the pick of the Bears' bowlers as he posted the figures of 3 for 33 in his four overs. Henry Brookes, Jeetan Patel, and Jacob Lindett contributed with a wicket each, and Olly Stone picked up two wickets.
Chasing a total of 141 shouldn't have caused many troubles for Bears and it didn't prove any different either. Although Ed Pollock was dismissed on the first delivery of their innings, the likes of Ian Bell, Adam Hose, and Sam Hain contributed with useful knocks to take Bears home. The experience of chasing similar totals over the years was on display here as well as Bell, Hose, and Hain all played relatively risk-free Cricket and focused more on efficient running between the wickets. Hose, who scored 38 off 22, was the pick of Birmingham's batsmen.
Overall, Birmingham Bears' performance in their only completed game was nothing short of brilliant. They used conditions to their advantage and chased down a tricky total with relative ease. The Bears have an extremely well-balanced side with class oozing right through. Given the kind of balance, they have, at least on paper, getting past them is going to be an uphill task even for the high-flying Steelbacks.
Ed Pollock, Will Rhodes, Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Ian Bell, Tim Bresnan, Olly Stone, Henry Brookes, Jeetan Patel, Jacob Lintott, Vikai Kelley.
Check out the Dream11 fantasy team lineup for the upcoming Vitality T20 Blast contest between Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Birmingham Bears. Don't forget to check back the latest updated team right after the toss.
Regardless of how early we are in the tournament, the top of the table clashes are always exciting and this one promised to be nothing different as well. Birmingham Bears and Northamptonshire Steelbacks are both coming off scintillating wins in their respective matches and they both will be brimming with confidence. The experience could be a crucial factor in the early part of the tournament and the Bears have that oozing right through their lineup. Considering that as well as the fact that the Bears have a stronger bowling attack between the two sides, we think that the Bears are better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming encounter.
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