The bottom two meet in The Hundred on Tuesday evening when the Manchester Originals welcome the Welsh Fire to Old Trafford for a match which will see the season officially end from a competitive point of view for one of them.
Both teams embark on this contest having lost their opening three matches and while there is an outside chance of five wins getting a place in the eliminator there is no chance with four wins so whoever loses this can plan for next season.
There was a lot of hope and anticipation around the Manchester Originals heading into the season but within three matches that has all but dissolved. It might be that their chances of qualifying being so remote free them up to play as we’ve seen many teams in the past do but actually they have played well enough in their three games, they just can’t seem to restrict an opposition team when they have the ball in their hands.
On the face of it, their attack looks decent enough on paper so questions are beginning to come around the captaincy. Jos Buttler had a mare at the start of his England captaincy and it hasn’t gone much better for him in The Hundred. You sense that Manchester are desperate to chase a score to give them the best chance of winning but the longer the competition goes the more the pitches will tire so that feels like a double edged sword as well.
The Welsh Fire went into their third match of the season against the Birmingham Phoenix desperately searching for something to give them hope after two absolute messes in their opening two games. They received plenty of hope from their performance against the Phoenix but then you feel like that has all gone because they threw a winning position away and ended up losing a match that for 190 balls they seemed in control of.
If they can put the disappointment of the defeat behind them and reflect on the fact that they were well on top of one of the best teams in the competition for so long then they might be able to build towards a first win here. The fact they failed to get over the line in the way they did suggests that they have forgotten how to win as a team. That is very much a concern but at least they have a decent bowling performance behind them which is more than their opposition can claim.
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Manchester Originals are desperate for a bowler to stand up and be counted in this competition and with the pitches beginning to get tired you have to think Matt Parkinson is the man they need to come to the party. If he can bowl a decent 20 over spell it will take the heat off the bowlers at the end.
Welsh Fire could do with someone in their top order standing up and being counted. Joe Clarke has bags of talent but he hasn’t been in form at all in the competition. Now would be a very good time for him to change that.
My gut feeling is that the Welsh Fire will come out on top in this match because although they have lost their opening three matches, they have put in a couple of decent enough bowling performances whereas the Manchester Originals are yet to bowl well in the competition. The one thing putting me off backing the Welsh side though is they looked like they have forgotten how to win a match, especially if it is tight.
That makes me head to the other bet which looks more obvious which is the over 296.5 runs one. We know Old Trafford is a pretty quick scoring ground. All four innings on this ground this season have seen 160 and more runs scored and with the Manchester attack leaking runs like a sieve there is nothing to suggest that is going to change here. Both teams are due to lose key bowlers in the coming days with Adam Zampa and Sean Abbott returning home for international duty and if they have already gone that will add to the strain of the bowlers here. Welsh Fire haven’t yet clicked with the bat but against this attack the way it is performing they might fill their boots as they bat deep. I fancy this match will move into the 300s for runs overall.
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