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Just a few days ago, Worcestershire Rapids were prime candidates to qualify for the next round, but a loss to Lancashire Lightning in their last match has put them in a spot of bother. Even though they are still in a pretty good position to qualify for the playoffs, they have an outside chance to get eliminated, which will vanish with a win for them in any of their remaining two matches. They play their next game on Wednesday, 28th August, against Nottinghamshire Outlaws at New Road in Worcester. Nottinghamshire have done exceedingly well in their last couple of matches and have a berth confirmed in the playoffs. The Outlaws have a chance to rise on the ladder and secure a home playoff with a win in their upcoming contest whereas Worcestershire Rapids will be desperate to register a win to cement their playoff spot. With stakes running high in the upcoming encounter, we expect both the sides to come out all guns blazing in what promises to be a cracker of a contest.
Worcestershire Rapids are currently placed at the fourth spot in the points table with fourteen points to their name in 12 matches. Although the next team at the ladder, Leicestershire Foxes, do no longer stands a chance to qualify for the playoffs, the Rapids will like to strengthen their position with a win here as Northants, and Durham Jets are still in with a chance to get to fourteen points each. Worcestershire Rapids have a pretty good net run-rate of +0.278 which could come in handy if things get close as far as qualification for the playoffs is concerned.
Overall, Worcestershire Rapids have had a pretty good season, but a loss in their previous match, to Lancashire, has undoubtedly raised a bit of concern for their management. The Lancs' batsmen magnified the vulnerabilities in their bowling lineup as Worcs' bowlers gave away a total of 218 runs in their 20 overs. Barring Daryl Mitchell, none of their bowlers looked effective, which is one area they'll be desperate to improve in, in the tournament going forward.
With Martin Guptill not available, the onus was on Riki Wessels, Ross Whiteley, and Callum Ferguson to do the damage at the top, but except for the superb knock of 89 by Ross Whiteley, none of their batsmen managed to stay around for long periods as the Rapids fell short of the target by 26 runs.
All in all, Worcestershire Rapids have done pretty well in the tournament so far with their batting consistently racking up runs. Their bowling, however, hasn't been that consistent, which could become a problem for them in crunch situations.
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Languishing in the bottom half of the table in the earlier part of the tournament, Nottinghamshire Outlaws have played exciting cricket in their last few matches. More often than not in their previous five completed fixtures, they have emerged on top with decent performances in all departments of the game. Currently, they have fifteen points to their name in 12 matches, thanks to six wins. Also, they have a superb net run-rate of 0.672, which speaks volumes about the dominance they've shown in the tournament so far.
They are coming into this match on the back of two consecutive wins in their previous two games, over Leicestershire and Yorkshire - in the same order. In their last match, they were restricted by Yorkshire to a manageable total of 148, and though they experienced a few hiccups during their defense, they eventually defended the total by three runs. A half-century from Joe Clarke and a couple of cameos from Jake Libby and Dan Christian came in handy to take them to 148, which proved to be the difference between two sides. While their bowling was phenomenal on the whole, Harry Gurney and Luke Fletcher, who picked up a couple of wickets each, were the picks of their bowlers.
Overall, Nottinghamshire Outlaws have an extremely well-balanced side, which was proved in the last edition of the tournament as well. They have experience available throughout their batting lineup with almost everyone capable to hit the ball long from the word go. They have an exceedingly good bowling attack available to complement their superb batting lineup and considering that, they will not be an easy team to get past in the upcoming fixture.
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The contests between these two sides have always produced some nail-biting cricket, which was apparent last year as well. The two teams are almost neck and neck, at least on paper, and the team which handles the pressure better on the match day will emerge on top. While both the sides have done almost at par in the tournament so far, and there is virtually nothing to separate the two, Nottinghamshire Outlaws are coming off a couple of good results in their last two matches. On the other hand, Worcestershire's struggle with their bowling hasn't been hidden from anyone and could be a problem in the upcoming game. While this match is expected to go right down to the wire, we think that Nottinghamshire Outlaws are better placed to emerge on top in this upcoming encounter.
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