The Hundred continues on Saturday evening with the second London derby of the campaign as the table topping London Spirit take on the Oval Invincibles in what might be the biggest of the four meetings between the sides in the relatively short life of the competition.
London Spirit know that a win will see them into the finals and would have them on the edge of progressing straight through to the final. Oval need to win to keep their hopes of extending their season alive so there is plenty on this one.
This has been a wonderful campaign for the London Spirit. I suspect some of it is fuelled by the sad passing of their first coach Shane Warne earlier in the season and it would be fitting if they win the first title since his death. They are well on track to do that with five wins in six matches, a run which could easily have been six from six had they not suffered a batting collapse away to the Trent Rockets. To their credit, they rebounded to beat the Welsh Fire last time out which while not being the hardest test they could have had, came with plenty of pressure as they would have lost ground to the field had they lost it.
The Spirit will be tested a little more with their personnel here as Kieron Pollard is now away to take part in the Caribbean Premier League. They do have Josh Inglis who could come in for him but if they want the batting and bowling option then Ravi Bopara would be the most likely replacement. London Spirit have a great bowling attack though so if they can continue to bat positively and not fall in a heap they are going to take a lot of beating.
The Oval Invincibles lost out in an important match to the Birmingham Phoenix early in the week but that has at least left them with clarity of mind from here on in. To have a realistic chance of making the finals they are going to need to win their last two matches. That is likely to be enough to get them in although it isn’t in their own hands anymore. The one thing we know for sure is they will be out should they lose this match so that isn’t an option for them.
Oval are in the same boat as the Spirit in that they have lost a key player. They have lost Sunil Narine who is the leading wicket taker in the competition so his absence is going to be felt, particularly with the new that broke earlier in the week which saw Reece Topley withdraw from the competition. They have signed Peter Hatzoglou as a replacement for Narine which should help but you sense Oval are going to need to make up the shortfall with the bat.
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Dan Lawrence is likely to come more and more into his own the longer this tournament goes on. His batting is there for all to see and he was explosive with the willow in the last game. A few more cameos would do his hopes of an England recall no harm at all.
Jason Roy generally has a good record at Lord’s both for England and in the Vitality Blast for Surrey but he is in no form whatsoever at the minute. His Oval team are desperate for him to find something here and get them off to a big start.
Jordan Thompson is quietly having a decent season and I suspect his role in this side might be about to improve because of the lack of Kieron Pollard. The Trinidadian will have been the chief finisher in his time with the London Spirit but in his absence it is a role that Thompson can fill. If we go back six weeks he showed all the batting power he has at Vitality Blast finals day and with a bigger role with the bat there is a good chance we get to see that here against an Oval attack who are missing key bowlers.
Thompson has regularly bowled his 20 balls throughout the tournament though and in only one game has he not taken a wicket. That was in the only match the Spirit have lost this season when he only sent down half of his allocation. Thompson bowls at the death where the cheap wickets come along and he’s a decent fielder as well. I expect him to be a lot more involved in the game with Pollard no longer around and so I’m happy to take the performance line to be covered by the Yorkshire ace.
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