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Worcestershire Rapids will once again be fighting against the odds when they take on Sussex Sharks in the third quarter-final of this year's Vitality T20 Blast. Last year, the odds were stacked heavily against them, but they defied those odds and went onto to claim the title. The memories of the clash will still be fresh in the minds of both the sides and they both will be looking to utilize that and register a win when these two meet in the upcoming fixture. The quarter-final between the two sides is set to be played on 6th September at the County Ground in Hove.
Sussex Sharks finished at the top in the south group and were undoubtedly the best team of that group. Out of the fourteen games they played, they emerged on top in eight and lost thus three. The rest of their matches were either tied or washed out due to rain. Barring Lancashire Lightning, no team did better than the Sharks this year in the group stage and it will be naive to disregard them in the upcoming encounter.
While Sussex Sharks had an enviable bowling attack at the beginning of the tournament with the likes of Jofra Archer and Rashid Khan available at their disposal, things haven't been the same in their past few matches. To rub salt to their wounds, Aussie paceman Jason Behrendorff has also pulled back his name due to a back injury. Having said that, Reece Topley and Danny Briggs have done well in the tournament so far and a lot will depend on the pair for the Sharks to emerge on top tomorrow.
Their batting, however, has stayed strong right from the beginning of the tournament and their march has only grown in pace as they've progressed ahead in the tournament. Philip Salt has scored heaps of runs at the top and he has been ably supported by the likes of Luke Wright and Laurie Evans. With David Wiese in fine form who is followed by Ben Brown and Delray Rawlins in the batting order, they have a batting order to be the envy of. The likes of Jordan and Briggs can certainly swing their bats which can prove to be game-changing in crunch situations. On the basis of their performance in the tournament and their team-on paper, beating them is certainly not going to be easy for the Bears.
Philip Salt, LJ Wright, Laurie Evans, Alex Carey, D Wiese, Delray Rawlins, Chris Jordan, Ollie Robinson, Will Beer, Danny Briggs, R Topley.
Although Worcestershire had a terrific start to the competition and stayed at the second spot of the north group ladder for quite some time, they lacked a final flourish towards the end. They, therefore, became the last team to qualify for the playoffs. At the end of the group stage, they had won six matches and lost five. Three of their matches were washed out due to rain. The Rapids will, however, draw confidence from the fact that they've won the most number of T20 matches than any team since the beginning of last year's edition.
In their last group game, they were defeated by Northamptonshire Steelbacks, who themselves failed to qualify for the playoffs. While the Rapids had plenty of options with the bat in the group stage, they certainly do not have that luxury in the playoffs. Callum Ferguson, their regular skipper, has flown back to Australia and Martin Guptill too, has joined the Kiwi squad to play against the Sri Lankans. The absence of duo is likely to have a telling impact on their batting order.
With the pair absent, the onus will be on Riki Wessels to get Rapids of a flying start. He has been their best batsman of the season, with a total of 349 runs from 11 games. While Pat Brown and Wayne Parnell haven't been consistent with the ball, they have done pretty well in crunch situations.
The return of Moeen Ali has been timely for them as his performance in the past few matches have all been match-winning. Only time will tell if Moeen Ali alone can fill in the boots of both Callum Ferguson and Martin Guptill, but Worcestershire are certainly a team to be wary of.
Riki Wessels, Moeen Ali, Tom Fell, Ben Cox, Ross Whiteley, Ed Barnard, Daryl Mitchell, Joe Leach, Dillon Pennington, Charlie Morris, Patrick Brown.
Check out the Dream11 fantasy lineup for the Vitality T20 Blast quarter-final to be played between Sussex Sharks and Worcestershire Rapids
Worcestershire Rapids, the defending champions, have the moral advantage of beating Sussex Sharks in a similar fixture last year. That time, however, they had their full-strength side available. The absence of Martin Guptill, Hamish Rutherford, and Callum Ferguson has rendered their batting a little too fragile to their liking. Sussex Sharks, on the other hand, have a settled unit, which has performed with more consistency in the tournament so far. Considering the reasons mentioned above, we think that the Sharks are better placed to emerge on top in the upcoming encounter.
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