Two teams with their eyes firmly on the title in The Hundred meet in the competition on Wednesday evening when the Trent Rockets welcome the Oval Invincibles for what is a big game at Trent Bridge once the Test action has concluded.
Both these teams head into what is their fifth match in the competition with three wins and a defeat to their name so the winner here will be in really good shape moving forward while the losers will have a little catching up to do.
After three wins to open up their season, Trent Rockets were brought back down to earth a little on Monday evening when they felt the full force of the Birmingham Phoenix. I don’t think that is necessarily a shocking defeat but the one thing which did come up from it, as I highlighted going into it, was that their top order has been a little too reliant on Dawid Malan and when he inevitably finally failed, they were found wanting a touch for too long.
To their credit, the Rockets found a partnership late in their batting innings that got them a total on the board but it was never going to be enough once they failed to break the Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone partnership straight away. That might be a concern for the Rockets in that Luke Wood aside their bowling looked a little toothless at Edgbaston, although they might get a slightly easier time of it in the middle sets here.
The Oval Invincibles have made a fine start to their competition. After losing their opening match, a match they very nearly snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in, they have now won three on the spin and are beginning to look like a side to be feared in the tournament. The fact they are doing it almost with 10 men with the increasingly poor form of Jason Roy only further adds to how well they are playing at the minute.
If there is a concern for the Oval outfit and their fans going into this one it might be that they have relied a lot on Will Jacks so far this term. Only two other players have more than 50 runs after four matches so if Jacks fails here the question will be whether they have enough to make up the difference. Oval do have a decent bowling unit though, one which fits conditions with a little bit of stick in the wicket, although whether they encounter that at Trent Bridge remains to be seen.
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Daniel Sams was brutal with the bat in the previous game against the Birmingham Phoenix and in the opening two matches he was excellent with the ball. If he can combine the two he’ll be a leading light for the Rockets here.
Will Jacks is second on the run list in this tournament despite the fact he missed a match when he was on England Lions duty. With few members of the Oval top order in form and Rilee Rossouw potentially out injured the Invincibles will need the best from their opener.
Oval Invincibles have been a good side this season but there is very much an element of them being very good at home and not so good on their travels. That was the case last term as well. In total they have won seven matches across the two seasons and six of those have come at The Oval. The one match they won away from home was when they beat the Welsh Fire in Cardiff a couple of matches ago and we’ve seen since then that there isn’t much strength to that piece of form.
Trent Rockets have a team who can win anywhere but particularly at Trent Bridge. They have big hitters right through their batting order which is a must but then they have a good mix in their bowling attack. They have left armers, fast and those with good change ups and have spinners who turn the ball in opposite directions which stops teams targeting the short boundary on this ground. Trent Rockets have only played one match at home this season which they won. I expect a second victory here against an Oval side a little too reliant on Will Jacks for my liking and who have an away record which is poor for a reason.
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