The knockout stages of the Metro Bank One Day Cup begins on Friday when the opening quarter final of the competition is played out at Bristol when Gloucestershire play host to the beaten finalists of last year in Lancashire.
Gloucestershire finished second in Group B to ensure they are at home in this quarter final. Lancashire were in this position last year albeit they hosted the last six clash. Despite there being no match in The Hundred on Friday we have no TV coverage here so it will be the county stream if you want to watch the game.
This has been a bit of an up and down campaign for Gloucestershire so far. They started it with a couple of wins but then ran into a couple of losses to leave their competition hanging by a thread. They then went on a four-match winning burst which not only got them into this quarter final but has them hosting it as well. If momentum means anything in sport then Gloucestershire certainly have it on their side right now.
The concern I would have over the Bristol outfit would be that their two defeats were against the other two qualifying teams and in what was much the easier group you just wonder if they actually beat anything. We will only really find that out in this match I guess. The one big advantage that Gloucestershire have is that Bristol is quite unique when it comes to the wicket and this is a team who for decades have been tough to beat at home.
The beaten finalists of last season are back on the quest for silverware and are three games from glory once again. The Red Rose outfit will be playing in their second quarter final of the season and will be looking to reach a first semi-final after Surrey denied them a place at the Vitality Blast finals day earlier in the year. Lancashire won both of their quarter finals in white ball cricket last season so they know they can come through.
One thing which might help Lancashire in this match is that they have already won a knockout game in this competition. Their last group game became a straight knockout match so the fact that they held their nerve in it will certainly bode well. The other thing that I think will help Lancashire is they were in the tougher of the two groups and to come away with four wins from six completed matches certainly bodes well for them. Only the two teams who finished above them beat them in the group stage too.
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David Payne has returned from The Hundred and he has gone straight into the Gloucestershire squad for this match and the experienced seamer will be assigned the task of getting stuck into the Lancashire top order.
Keaton Jennings has been in fine form for Lancashire this season and if he can combat that Payne new ball spell it would set the innings up for what is a stronger batting unit than usual with players beginning to return.
Gloucestershire getting David Payne back is going to help their chances in this match but they are without Chris Dent and the hero of the win last time out, Ben Wells, is now out for the season. That doesn’t bode well particularly with Lancashire getting Luke Wells back and Steven Croft is back in the side and I think Lancashire are the ones to be on in this one. They have the deeper squad of the two and are experienced in these knockout white ball matches in recent times.
I just think the form of this competition spells Lancashire to win this match as well. There is no doubt in my mind that they were in the harder of the two groups and that can translate into something here. The Lancashire new ball attack can do some real damage and if it gets into the Gloucestershire middle order I think the rest of the bowling can cope. Lancashire look good with the bat, have won a knockout match in this competition this season and look the pick to me.
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