The Vitality Blast continues on Saturday evening when the south coast rivals collide at Hove when the Sussex Sharks take on the Hampshire Hawks in a match which you feel is huge for both sides even this early in the competition.
The good news is that despite the Test match dominating the TV coverage this week, this match will be televised once play at Edgbaston has finished so we should be in for a decent evening to kick back and watch some cricket.
It has been a slow start to the Vitality Blast for the Sussex Sharks in that they had to wait until the third day of the competition to begin their campaign and only play their second match of it here. It was anything but a slow start in terms of their impact though because when they finally did get their tournament underway they emphatically beat a dangerous Gloucestershire side on Friday evening and will be looking to build on that here, in their first home match of their campaign.
Sussex were never going to be at their best at the start of the competition when you think that Rashid Khan is away in the Pakistan Super League and now Luke Wright suffered an unfortunate injury in the lead up to this match, so if they can pick up victories while they wait for those two to come back they will be in a very strong position when they get a full strength side out. Sussex always look strong with the ball and if their middle order can offer their best form they can be tough to stop.
There were days in the past where you could have bet your house on Hampshire Hawks delivering the goods in this format of the game. They were regulars at finals day, getting their hands on the prize on two occasions, but those memories are becoming a thing of the past and their recent form has been indifferent to say the least. That has already been highlighted in their two games to date in this competition.
Hampshire were terrible in defeat to Kent in their opening match, although in fairness to them that doesn’t look such a bad result after the Friday games. They were a whole lot better for the second game against Essex on Friday evening when they defended a score, something which will give them a lot of confidence moving forward. I still have huge concerns over the Hampshire batting, at least until Colin de Grandhomme arrives, but if they can keep things tight with the ball they have a chance.
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Sussex named Luke Wright in their squad for these opening two matches but the split webbing on his hand mean he is unlikely to feature so Chris Jordan will lead the side in his absence. Ollie Robinson is taking time out of the game while Jofra Archer is injured and Rashid Khan doesn’t arrive until after the PSL concludes.
Hampshire decided to leave Sam Northeast out of their side on Friday night and while they keep naming Kyle Abbott in their squad for this competition he hasn’t played in it for quite some time. D’Arcy Short is the overseas batsman in the side.
I’ll go with one main bet and a couple of value top batsmen bets for this match. The main bet comes in the form of Sussex to hit the most sixes at even money. There are six hitters in this Hampshire side but there aren’t many of them. Their top five have only hit one six in their two innings so far and they have played both their matches on relatively small grounds. There is a clear confidence issue in their batting ranks. Sussex on the other hand hit freely against Gloucestershire on Friday evening even though they were 52-4 chasing 177 at one stage. They hit eight sixes in that innings and when you think the likes of Travis Head, Ravi Bopara and David Wiese didn’t contribute to that total there is a lot more to come from them here. Hampshire have lost the sixes battle 5-1 and 6-2 in their two matches so far and I suspect that trend is going to continue in this match.
In terms of the top batsmen David Wiese and James Fuller look like being prices at double figure quotes. Wiese actually walked in at four against Gloucestershire and if he comes in here, and the lowest he’ll bat looking at the line up is five anyway, he’s a big price at 8/1. He is a player who can knock it around and he can play the big innings too so without Luke Wright around, should Salt fail the South African could land the top honours. Fuller top scored for Hampshire here last season when he clubbed a 50 down the order. He’ll bat at six for this Hampshire side and I’ve already mentioned that those above him aren’t in the greatest form or carrying a lot of confidence. Fuller walloped a two a ball 26 at Chelmsford on Friday evening so he might be coming into form. At 14/1 I’ll pay to see if he can land the top score once again.
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Back D.Wiese Top Sussex Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 9.00 with Coral
Back J.Fuller Top Hampshire Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 15.00 with BetVictor
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