The Trent Rockets are already through to the final of The Hundred and on Friday evening they will find out who they will play when the Manchester Originals and London Spirit head to the Ageas Bowl for the Eliminator.
The Originals came from nowhere to make this Eliminator contest whereas the Spirit led the way for so long in the regular season that they will need to put that behind them and get themselves up for a knockout game with a place in the final the reward.
There are certainly similarities between the season of the Southern Brave last term and the Manchester Originals this time around heading into this Eliminator clash. The Brave won their last six matches to reach this stage last year whereas Manchester have won their last five and are here to tell the tale. They have already played a knockout match in the tournament as their final group game was effectively a quarter final and there is no doubt in my mind that is an advantage.
There aren’t many teams who were able to score freely with the bat in the last 10 days or so of the group stage but the Manchester Originals were. That was very much to their credit because we are seeing the pitches tire before our eyes and that is certainly no bad thing for the Originals, who should Wayne Madsen get thrown the ball could field four spinners. Their seamers are doing the job and they are fielding terrifically. They look like a team ready to win this thing.
The season of the London Spirit has gone in completely the opposite direction to that of the Originals. They flew out of the blocks and for the first half and maybe two-thirds of the campaign looked like the winners in waiting but they hit the wall when Glenn Maxwell and then Kieron Pollard left and although their replacements have delivered the goods the presence of those two in the dressing room must be quite something because they’ve looked a different side.
The Spirit head into this Eliminator having lost three of their last four matches and in each of those they have failed with the bat. The win in that time was against the Welsh Fire and they were so bad I’m still wondering what the point was in them turning up. In the three defeats the Spirit have mustered scores of 122, 122/7 and 139/6. If they are going to win this title their batters need to come to the party in a big way.
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The Ageas Bowl isn’t a ground where you smash everything for six so the ability to find the gaps that Wayne Madsen has will be crucial here. Spirit could launch three spinners at this match and the Derbyshire man is a good player of spin.
You get the feeling that if the London Spirit are going to win this match then Dan Lawrence needs to play a major role in it. He will bat right in the middle of the order and then he will bowl most of his 20 overs of spin. London need the best side of him here.
I’ll go with three bets for this Eliminator. I don’t need to back the Manchester Originals for this match because I’m on them to win the tournament but I’m acutely aware that backing up a performance a day after a potentially intense game isn’t going to be easy so I’ll back them to win this match and see what happens from there on Saturday. I believe form is a big thing at this stage of a tournament. The negative for the Originals is that near enough the entire London Spirit bowling attack are on home soil in this match but that aside Manchester look in much better form with the bat and probably with the ball too. There is no getting away from the fact the Spirit have been found wanting with the bat since Maxwell and Pollard left and although Ben McDermott has scored well for them, he took an age to get going in the Vitality Blast matches here. Manchester have fire with the new ball, quality spin in the middle and good change of pace bowlers and a deep batting unit. London look a batter light to me and that might be the difference here.
The other main bet I like for this match is for there to be under 304.5 runs. Given the amount of cricket that has been played at the Ageas Bowl this season it would be asking something for this match to be on a fresh pitch, especially after Hampshire were here in the Royal London semi-final on Tuesday. This is a high scoring ground when the international stuff comes along but even that wicket has had a fair bit of use this summer and whatever pitch is used here will have the women on it beforehand. Then when you factor in that the Spirit have four of the Hampshire attack, potentially five if Chris Wood is fit, that dominate teams here, and Manchester have three good spin options and a couple of clever medium pacers, batting is going to be hard work here. Only one of the four matches on this ground have gone past this line and that was one where Jos Buttler and Andre Russell took to George Garton and Michael Hogan like a bull takes to a red rag. Even then there were only 308 runs in that. The line looks too high to me.
The final bet I’ll have is for Eoin Morgan to top score for the London Spirit. He suits this Manchester attack nicely and has already smacked 37 in 26 balls against it this term. He also loves batting at the Ageas Bowl. His record for England there was excellent and on the odd occasion he has played for Middlesex there he has gone well too. This Manchester attack works for a left-hander with the two main spinners turning into the pads of Morgan and two of the three main seamers at left arm as well. Morgan is one of those who tends to stand up in the big games and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him top score here.
Back Manchester Originals to beat London Spirit for a 3/10 stake at 2.05 with Betfred
Back Under 304.5 runs for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
Back E.Morgan Top London Spirit Batter for a 1/10 stake at 6.00 with Coral