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One of the most highly awaited clashes in the Vitality Blast 2018 Quarter-Finals is about to take place. Somerset finished top of the South Group with 20 points from its 14 matches while Nottinghamshire finished fourth in the North Group with 16 points.
It would be fair to say that Somerset has been consistently excellent this season but Nottinghamshire is just peaking at the right time. Both the teams are very strong T20 units and depend on their batting to win them matches.
Will Somerset use home advantage to its maximum and edge past the defending champions or will Nottinghamshire continue its excellent recent form?
There is a little bit of an injury cloud hanging over Somerset’s skipper, Lewis Gregory, but he is most likely to be available for the quarter-final. Gregory’s 15 wickets in the tournament and more than useful late order batting are going to be very important for Somerset in these closing stages of the tournament.
The team has a good roster of T20 batsmen to call upon, most of whom have been scoring runs regularly.
Corey Anderson has been the highest run-getter for Somerset with 460 runs to his name. Perhaps, equally importantly, he has also hit 31 sixes up until now and is getting all his runs at a strike rate of 173.58.
Anderson has not shown this kind of batting form for a long time and would want to capitalize now that he seems to have rediscovered his touch. Apart from Anderson, Myburgh, Hildreth, and Trego will the batsmen that Somerset will look to for runs.
If a couple of them can get stuck into the Nottingham bowlers then Somerset will definitely have a good batting performance. Taunton has been one of the highest scoring ground in the competition, so, it can be reasonably expected that the pitch will aid the batsmen once again.
Of course, the role of the bowlers becomes more important on a good batting pitch too. Waller, van der Merwe, Taylor, and Gregory have all been very good for Somerset. Waller, in fact, has an economy rate of 6.43 till now, which is exceptional but the main contest will be between the strong Nottinghamshire top order and Somerset’s new ball bowlers.
Taylor, Gregory, and Overton need to get early wickets to tilt this match in their side’s favor.
Playing 11 not yet available.
For a large part of the group stages, it seemed unlikely that the defending champions would be able to make it to the quarter-final stage but they just about managed to do so. The fact their team has been on the upswing in the last couple of weeks is a very good thing for Nottinghamshire.
Too many times we see teams that have peaked a little too early and are running out of steam come the important times. This is certainly not the case with Nottinghamshire.
The top-order for Nottinghamshire is going to be very crucial. Rikki Wessels is a ferocious hitter of the ball and has shown what he is capable of in a couple of matches already. His partner, Alex Hales, has scored just one fifty so far but he has the experience of playing in these big matches.
Hales is the one player that could absolutely take Somerset attack apart. The court case involving Stokes had to be on Alex Hales’s mind and now that the case has been settled in the players favor it is going to free him up considerably.
Apart from these two, Dan Christian has been in brilliant batting form and is, in fact, the highest run-getter for Nottinghamshire right now. He, Samit Patel, and Harry Hurney will also be very important in the bowling side of things.
Gurney has taken 20 wickets and been very good at the death. Spearing in those yorkers is going to be very important in a place like Taunton where defending any total can be a nightmare.
Playing 11 not yet available.
The team winning the toss is likely to field first
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The pitch in Taunton is going to an absolute treat for the batsmen to play on. We fully expect a six-hitting run fest on display in this match. The small boundaries are going to be very hard to protect and even a score of over 200 can be chased down with relative ease.
The weather forecast for match day is not very encouraging. Rain is almost definitely expected on the morning of the match and then expected to continue intermittently for most of the day. Whether the outfield dries quickly enough for play to take place will have to be seen. There is a reserve day on Monday in case of a washout.
Somerset and Nottinghamshire have met each other three times in the knock-out stages of the Blast. Somerset has won two times while Nottinghamshire won the most recent encounter. Both teams have a side filled with match winners but home advantage and a better-balanced side lend the edge to Somerset in this encounter.
Back Somerset to win.
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