The second semi-final of the NatWest T20 Blast sees Durham taking on Yorkshire in a battle of the sides who finished fourth and third in the North Group in the first stage of the competition.
Both sides go into this semi knowing full well that history sits on the side of the second semi-final winner so whoever comes through here could very well go all the way. Both sides are full of England stars so this should be another cracking match.
This is Durham’s second finals day. Their first was at the Rose Bowl in 2008 when they lost in the semi-final so they will be looking to make history by making it to the final and then hopefully from their point of view go on and win that final. We’ve seen in the past that when Durham get to finals they are tough to beat.
We know how good the Durham bowling attack is. The big question about them going into this big day is whether their batting can hold up to the pressure. Phil Mustard remains a big loss in my eyes although Mark Stoneman showed his class in the quarter final win at Gloucestershire to give all Durham fans hope here.
Like their opponents here Yorkshire have only been to finals day once. Theirs came in Wales in 2012 when they lost to Hampshire in the final but they look a lot stronger for this tilt at the title than they did back then. A win in the Royal London Cup on Thursday was the perfect warm up for this big occasion too.
Yorkshire finished third in the group earlier in the campaign but arguably their best performance came against Glamorgan in the quarter final when they demolished the Welsh outfit with the bat and the ball and a performance like that here would give them every chance of winning this semi-final and potentially the final too.
Mustard continues to miss out for Durham as he looks set to leave the club at the end of the season but Durham do have Ben Stokes and Mark Wood available here. Stokes is only playing as a batsman though. Stuart Poynter misses out on international duty.
Yorkshire also have their England stars available. Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett, David Willey, Gary Ballance and Adil Rashid are all in the Yorkshire squad and will play barring a late change of fortunes. They have no overseas player as Travis Head is on international duty.
The two sides shared their group meetings which suggests that this semi-final could be slightly closer than the betting suggests but Yorkshire’s win was emphatic and Durham’s win was heavily rain affected although that might actually be significant given the forecast.
Just like the first semi it has to be pointed out that the forecast for the day is awful and we could well be looking at a reduced match which isn’t ideal for anyone be it players, spectators or indeed for us punters.
In a 20 over match you would find it hard to argue against Yorkshire here but a shortened game very much brings Durham into play. They have enough hitters to be competitive and the bowlers they have that can go around the park won’t be bowling enough for such an impact to be made whereas their quality bowlers like Rushworth and Wood can bowl hugely significant spells. Given the prognosis for the day Durham are worth a chance here.
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