The second season of The Hundred continues on Friday evening when the champions Southern Brave welcome the current table toppers London Spirit to the Ageas Bowl for what should be a very good contest.
The Brave went into the new campaign as the title favourites having won the tournament a year ago but nobody saw the Spirit getting off to the start they have done and all of a sudden this looks a lot more competitive than it might have done.
The Southern Brave got their season off to a wonderful start when they cruised to victory against the Welsh Fire in their opening game but there was always a sense that they didn’t beat much in that match and they subsequently came a cropper against the Birmingham Phoenix on Wednesday evening. While the win over Welsh Fire might be overrated it might be that too much will be put on a loss to a Phoenix side who can cause problems to anyone on their day.
There isn’t really a lot that teams can do when a player has a day out like Will Smeed had on Wednesday but if there is something the Brave might look to then it could be that nobody in their top order gave themselves the chance to get in before looking to go big. In the end it was a batting effort which didn’t get going and ended quite abruptly and they’ll need better than that here if they are to return to winning ways.
Having won just one match in the entirety of last season, I don’t think anyone saw London Spirit opening this season with two wins in their first two matches. In the Oval Invincibles and Manchester Originals they have beaten a couple of solid teams too so it isn’t as though they have had a particularly easy schedule. I always think it is big when teams can defend scores in the shorter format of the game and the Spirit have done that twice so that is encouraging.
We will probably only truly know if they are title challengers when they have to chase a score and have to deal with the pressure of the scoreboard but they bat incredibly deep so there is nothing to suggest they won’t be able to tick that box when it comes around. The real positive for the Spirit is they have won their opening two matches and one of their marquee players – Glenn Maxwell – hasn’t really contributed like we know he can. That tells us there is more to come from the London outfit.
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James Vince will be batting against the majority of the bowlers he skippered to the Vitality Blast title in this match so if anyone knows how to score against the Spirit attack it will be him. We saw in the last game if he gets out early the innings can get stuck so the Brave need their captain to deliver.
Kieron Pollard has delivered two brutal blitzes in this tournament so far and if there is an area where the Southern Brave usually gain more than an edge it is at the end of a bowling innings so if the Trinidadian can get going at the death the Spirit could cash in.
Home advantage is generally considered a thing in The Hundred but it is open to debate who has home advantage here because the London Spirit bowling attack with the exception of Jordan Thompson are all based at the Ageas Bowl. I’m a little wary of taking the Southern Brave here. I didn’t think they were great against the Birmingham Phoenix and this Spirit side looks dangerous but I’m pretty sure they are without Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence here.
That makes me head to the side markets for a bet and I think the under 300.5 runs is the way to go in this one. These two teams are led by the two best captains in the country and with the south east of England having been through a heatwave this week I can’t believe the ball is going to fly onto the bat so those skippers can get creative with two very good bowling attacks that are at their disposal. Only one of the four matches here last year went over this line and that only had 303 runs in it. Given the heat of recent days and the fact the women will be playing on this pitch in baking heat beforehand, I think runs might be harder to come by than we’ve seen in recent days.
Back Under 300.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Betway