The second semi-final of the Vitality Blast is a repeat of a clash from this stage of the tournament a year ago as Hampshire take on Somerset in a battle between the fourth and second best teams from the South Group.
Hampshire have already won at Edgbaston when they took care of the Birmingham Bears in the quarter final, while Somerset broke a whole bunch of records in coming past Derbyshire to book their spot at finals day.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Cricket channel. The build-up to this second semi-final begins after the mascot race and the first ball will be sent down at 2.30pm.
When Hampshire lost their opening four matches this season they could have been forgiven for thinking that this wasn’t going to be their season in the Vitality Blast, and with a very good Championship campaign on the go it would have been easy to ditch the 20 over game and focus on the red ball stuff but fuelled by the sad passing of Shane Warne earlier in the year the message of not quitting runs right through this side and since then they have won 10 of their 11 matches and head to Edgbaston as the form team in the competition.
Hampshire have qualified for this finals day off the back of a bowling unit that has been nothing short of exceptional. They have twice defended 140 or less in the competition and in an intense quarter final they shot out a powerful Birmingham side for 82. If their batting fires then they are entitled to be a very dangerous side and very tough to beat but the beauty of this team is they don’t need their batting to fire to win matches.
Somerset head into this semi-final knowing full well that they beat Hampshire on finals day last year and will be confident of repeating the feat here. They go into finals day off the back of one of the most dominant performances you’ll ever see in the quarter final when they ran up the highest score ever made in the competition and then took their opponents apart with the ball in hand. A repeat of that will make them almost impossible to beat.
The big question is whether they can repeat that. That match was at Taunton, a ground they play very well and was against an inexperienced opponent rather than one who appears at finals day for a ninth time. They are without a couple of key bowlers because of England call ups and injury which will deprive them of the services of Craig Overton and Josh Davey. That means Somerset might have just one way of winning – rely on their batting to put up a score that is out of reach.
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It is an absolute mystery how James Vince hasn’t been called into an England squad this summer but their loss is very much Hampshire’s gain. The top scorer in the competition will be eager to deliver the goods and least his team to victory.
Rilee Rossouw goes up against his former side here and while he isn’t the only one in this Somerset batting unit who can take a game away from the opposition, he is the one who has done it the most this season. A big innings from him here will have Somerset ahead of the game.
Somerset beat Hampshire in the semi-final a year ago but I think the result will be reversed here. That semi-final was the opening one last year when the pitch was fresh and Somerset were suited by the conditions. Things are different here because they will be on a pitch that has already had a match on it and that brings the Hampshire bowling attack right into play. They excel on pitches that have a bit in them and they’ll be confident here as a result.
I’m happy to back Hampshire in this match because they have two ways to win. They can win by putting a huge score on the board and defending it like they did in the quarter final but they can win with their bowlers restricting Somerset if their batters fail as they did in what was effectively a knockout match with Gloucestershire in the group stage. I’m not convinced Somerset can win this match if their batters, their top three specifically, don’t fire. At odds against Hampshire, a team who have won 10 of their last 11 matches including over Somerset in Taunton, look the right bet here.
Back Hampshire to beat Somerset for a 3/10 stake at 2.05 with Betfred