There is one match in the Vitality Blast on Saturday and it comes from the South Group where two teams who went to finals day last season meet in a huge match at the Ageas Bowl when Hampshire play host to local rivals Sussex.
It is fair to say these two go into this match in very different shape. Hampshire have lost all four of their matches to date while Sussex have won their last three after opening with a couple of losses so it will be interesting to see if those trends continue.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Cricket channel after the Test match has concluded. The short build-up will begin at 7pm with the first ball at 7.05pm.
Hampshire have a good pedigree in this format of the game but they have made a terrible start to this season. They have lost their opening four matches and while they were competitive in their first defeat, they have been taken to the cleaners in their last three games. One crumb of comfort for the Hawks is that Surrey and Somerset look the standout sides in the South Group at the minute and they have accounted for two of the four defeats so it could be that their record isn’t as bad as it looks.
The big problem for Hampshire so far this season has come with the bat. The only innings of theirs that has got going in terms of runs in the powerplay was when they were chasing a monster total at Surrey on Thursday night and even then they were five wickets down at the end of it. They have to start laying better platforms if they are going to turn their form around. In the main they haven’t bowled too bad but their bowlers have had little to work with.
Sussex went into this competition looking a lot weaker in personnel than they did when they made the semi-final last season and when they dropped their opening two matches it looked like this was going to be a campaign of struggle as they look to rebuild after key departures. To their credit they have taken stock of things and have won their last three matches, the latest of which was a very good run chase against Middlesex on Friday evening.
The upturn in form for Sussex has come since the arrival of Obed McCoy. He complements Tymal Mills perfectly at the end of the innings and that just takes the pressure off their batting, which it does have to be said still looks a batter light, although if Ravi Bopara can continue the form he showed in the run chase on Friday then that would do them no harm. The big thing for Sussex here is whether they can go again after a pretty intense game the night before.
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Hampshire captain James Vince missed the defeat to Surrey on Thursday night due to illness but he is expected to return in this match and the Hawks need their talisman to start showing his best form. He might well go up to open which would do no harm.
Obed McCoy has nine wickets in two spells for Sussex this season and with Hampshire looking a little fragile with the bat in hand he must be licking his lips heading to the Ageas Bowl. He has been the difference between Sussex chasing monster scores and manageable ones.
It looks like we might need to dodge a monster amount of rain which is due in this part of the world shortly after this match is due to finish but in case it comes early I don’t really want to be betting on the match winner. There is a main bet I do like though and that comes in the form of under 325.5 runs. I’ve mentioned a few times in this preview that Hampshire aren’t going great guns with the bat and they are yet to post 163 in any innings which would be what is needed if they bat first in order for the under to be busted. Sussex have only made that score twice and that was when they had two batting overseas players in their ranks whereas they only have one here. They are also without Tom Alsop who is their second highest run scorer in the squad which remains because he can’t play against his parent club. Both teams have good death bowlers in Nathan Ellis for Hampshire and Obed McCoy and Tymal Mills for Sussex. This run line looks too high to me.
The leading run scorer for Hampshire this season is James Fuller and given that he is a massive price to top score here I think it is worth taking the chance that he is good enough to top score again. None of the Hampshire top order are in any form so it wouldn’t be unlikely for Fuller to have to come in and do a repair job again. While scoring at the death won’t be as easy in this match, nobody is hitting the ball as well as he is in a Hampshire shirt at present. If he can come in during the middle overs he might be able to smack enough to trouble the top score before things get trickier at the death. At 25/1 I’ll pay to see if the man who has top scored twice in four matches can do it again.
Back Under 325.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365
Back J.Fuller Top Hampshire Batter for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 with William Hill
Back him here: