The South Group of the Royal London One Day Cup concludes on Wednesday with the final round matches in the group as the first three places in the knockout stages are confirmed in the southern end of the country.
There is a lot to play for in the group with four sides chasing the final spot in the next round and none of them are playing each other so we are all set up for plenty of drama. There is a TV match for us to enjoy along the way too which is where we will begin our preview.
Hampshire vs Somerset
The live game sees the leaders Hampshire looking to secure a home semi-final when they take on a Somerset side who must win to have any chance of making it into the knockout stages. Even a win might not be enough for the Cidermen but a defeat ends their campaign forthwith.
Hampshire have been anything but consistent in this tournament in terms of beating sides easily but they have ground out a lot of wins with their lower order bailing them out in particular. Somerset have had a tendency to collapse recently which will be concerning and the chances are they are going to need to bat well here.
Although they have collapsed in recent times I like Somerset to have the highest first 15 overs score here. Hampshire no longer have Hashim Amla in their ranks and Dale Steyn might need to bowl a few overs to get up to speed while with the bat Rilee Rossouw’s form has fallen away. Somerset like to score freely at the top of the innings with Johann Myburgh, Steven Davies and Peter Trego all free spirits and usually Hampshire’s seamers can go around the park. 5/4 feels a little too big especially if Somerset control Rossouw early on.
I’ll also chance my arm at a couple of big priced top batsmen down the order. Gareth Berg is no 35/1 shot for Hampshire. He just won them a match with 52* and while it wasn’t enough to top score it was only two shy. Much earlier in the competition he nailed 65 against Sussex which was enough to lead the scoring and if the top order goes cheaply he is in good enough for to capitalise.
For Somerset I think Lewis Gregory is overpriced at 20/1. If Hampshire can take early wickets then as we saw last week against Kent it could be up to the Somerset captain to get his side out of the mire. At some point you’ve got to think Somerset will trust the batting of him and van der Merwe and play the extra bowler. If that is here Gregory could run hot at 20s.
Essex vs Kent
The real big match of the day comes from Chelmsford where Essex are in control of their own destiny. If they win they will most likely finish second and host a quarter final but they will definitely be through. If Kent win and Hampshire don’t Kent will top the group and make the semi-finals.
Both these sides have shown some good stuff in this competition but to my eye Kent have been the more impressive. Their top order looks in insane form and in Matt Henry they have the real X-Factor in the match in terms of being able to blow an opposing top order away. At odds against I think Kent can sent Essex packing from the competition and potentially seal a semi-final spot in the process.
Gloucestershire vs Middlesex
Middlesex go into their final match of the campaign knowing that they can no longer qualify for the knockout stages unlike their hosts Gloucestershire who most certainly can. Gloucestershire need to win and hope Essex, Somerset and Surrey lose and they will progress.
Whether results go their way elsewhere I’m not sure but I do like them to do their part of the bargain. Only Hampshire have lost fewer matches this season and it is only the rain which has denied the Bristolians a better chance this season. Middlesex have gone back to Dawid Malan as captain which seems strange given how well Steven Finn has done but with Eoin Morgan still out with injury their batting looks light if Gloucestershire can keep Paul Stirling quiet. If they do that I expect the home side to have enough to win here.
Surrey vs Glamorgan
The final match of the afternoon comes from The Oval as Surrey host Glamorgan. It has been a poor campaign so far for both sides but Surrey are the ones who still have the chance to progress if they can win and Somerset and Essex both fail to. That’s a longshot but it isn’t completely dead.
Given how terribly Glamorgan have gone this season I’ve got to think Surrey are good things for this but Glamorgan spoiled Sussex’s party and they nearly put a spanner in Hampshire’s works on Sunday so I’m not in a hurry to take them on at a short price. Hopefully Surrey win and results go their way for the view of my outright punt but that’s the only interest I’ll have in this one.
WON – Back Somerset Highest 1st 15 Overs vs Hampshire for a 4/10 stake at 2.25 with Ladbrokes
Back G.Berg Top Hampshire Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 36.00 with Betfair
Back him here:
Back L.Gregory Top Somerset Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Unibet
Back him here:
Back Kent to beat Essex for a 4/10 stake at 2.10 with Coral
Back Gloucestershire to beat Middlesex for a 4/10 stake at 1.91 with William Hill