The first full night of Vitality Blast action arrives on Friday evening when four matches take place in each group as the competition really kicks into life, and does so once again on a perfect day for this format of the game.
There are eight matches in total over the course of the evening with one of them getting the TV treatment once the Test match comes to a close. As always this season the excellent county streams will be showing the other games.
Lancashire have stolen the early march in the North Group but they are the team who are not in action on Friday night so the chasers have the chance to catch up with them. The televised action actually comes from this group on Friday evening when former champions Northamptonshire and Worcestershire go at it at Wantage Road. Nottinghamshire threw their opening match away on Wednesday and will be out to make up for that when they host the Birmingham Bears. Yorkshire got started with a win and they make the trip up north to take on a Durham Jets side who are beginning their campaign here. The other match in the group sees Leicestershire hosting Derbyshire at Grace Road.
Surrey laid down their title credentials in the South Group on Thursday evening and they can continue to look good when they head down to Taunton to take on a Somerset side who lost their opening match. Kent were also emphatic winners of their opening match and they host a Middlesex team who’ve just been taken to the cleaners by Surrey while Essex will look to build on their fine win over Somerset when they play host to Hampshire at Chelmsford. Gloucestershire host a Sussex team starting out their campaign in the other match over the course of the evening.
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TV Match Betting
I’ll go for three in the TV match on Friday evening, the first of which is over 38.5 boundaries. These two teams are extremely successful in this format of the game in recent times and one of the reasons for that is how deep they both bat. Worcestershire had Ed Barnard coming in at seven the other night with Ben Dwarshuis, who showed in the Big Bash that he can bat, ready to come in at eight. There is every chance Northamptonshire are going to have an all-rounder of some sort coming in at eight here too. Matches between these two on this ground recently have been extremely high scoring and with the weather we’ve had recently I expect no difference here. I’m confident the boundaries will start flowing and not stop at any stage so I like over 38.5 boundaries.
I’m a little surprised that we can get Richard Levi with a runs line at 20.5 here. Worcestershire trotted out more pies than the Fray Bentos factory in the first six overs in their opening match on Friday and if there is someone on this Northamptonshire team who likes a pie it is the big hitting South African. He has reportedly been smashing it to all parts for the seconds in preparation for this tournament so he could cover this line and do it quite quickly. He made 50 when the two sides met here last year and on a pitch which is usually a beaut for batting in this format of the game, him to reach 21 is a bet worth taking.
Ross Whiteley showed both the sides to his game the other night. He has always been known as someone who can give it a good tonk but he actually showed some maturity to play himself in and then explode. The conditions of the innings dictated that but it was good to know he has that in his locker and at 14/1 I’m interested in him to top score here. He was second the other night but had he not got out trying to maximise the innings he might well have reeled Jake Libby in. It wasn’t too long ago that Whiteley was being eyed up for England honours as a finisher and I just can’t let 14/1 go here.
Other Matches Betting
I’ll take two in the other games as well with the first of those being on an Essex side who I don’t actually think is as good as ones in years gone by, but who I still expect to be too good for a Hampshire team who picked up where they left off last season in their opening game. Unfortunately for them Hampshire only won two out of 10 matches and similar will come along here if they don’t improve immeasurably on that first showing. They were wayward and expensive with the ball with the exception of Mason Crane and once the opening pair were dismissed their batting had a deck of cards look to it. The batting is a real concern for Hampshire who other than Liam Dawson don’t really have a lot to come after the front two with Sam Northeast in no form whatsoever. Essex probably need a stronger top three to do damage in this competition but they will rectify that when Cameron Delport comes back from the PSL. Even with a weak top three they still chased down 185 at Somerset the other night. That shows Essex can win this while chasing and Hampshire’s dismal run chase the other night suggests Essex can defend a score too so I like the 2019 winners here.
The other bet I’ll take is over 331.5 runs in the match between Kent and Middlesex. Canterbury is a high scoring ground at the best of times and I don’t see anything changing here. We saw the effect a depleted attack is going to have on Middlesex when they haemorrhaged runs against Surrey on Thursday evening and Kent are powerful enough to take advantage of that themselves. We also saw there is no shortage of power in the Middlesex batting which was one positive to come out of that defeat for them. Combined I expect these two to cover this run line in what should be glorious batting conditions down at Canterbury.
Back Northamptonshire vs Worcestershire – Over 38.5 boundaries for a 3/10 stake at 1.80 with William Hill
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Back R.Levi – Over 20.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.85 with BetVictor
Back R.Whiteley Top Worcestershire Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 with BetVictor
Back them here:
Back Essex to beat Hampshire for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Boylesports
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Back Kent vs Middlesex – Over 331.5 runs for a 3/10 stake at 1.83 with Bet365