The greatest day of the English domestic calendar has arrived. On Saturday the NatWest T20 Blast title will be decided with two semi-finals and the final on a fantastic day at Edgbaston. This year finals day is a northern party with the four remaining sides all coming from the North Group.
The opening semi-final sees Nottinghamshire taking on Northamptonshire in a match which sees two of the most aggressive, attacking sides in the competition going at each other. These two were first and second in the North Group which highlights how good it should be.
If you only saw the start of this competition but missed the second half of the group stage you could be forgiven for wondering how on earth Nottinghamshire are at finals day but the truth is the other one day competition came at a good time for them and having found some form and momentum in that they never looked back.
Nottinghamshire have a wonderful batting line up which will undoubtedly be bigged up throughout the day but for me what makes them tough to beat is their cannier bowlers especially Steven Mullaney who does nothing with the ball but nearly always bowls his overs economically which either brings a good start back or adds to the pressure of a slow start.
The 2013 champions and 2015 runners up are back for another go at the showpiece occasion and who would write them off? Northants had the odd wobble along the way in their group game but nothing more than you are going to get in a 14 match campaign.
Just like Nottinghamshire, Northants have a very aggressive batting line up which if anything doesn’t get the credit that it deserves but one area they do get plenty of credit is with the ball, a discipline they are very strong in and which has led them through previous finals days.
Nottinghamshire have Andre Russell available for the day while England have also released Alex Hales and Stuart Broad for the big occasion. With Michael Lumb, Dan Christian, Imran Tahir, Jake Ball and Harry Gurney all available too Nottinghamshire don’t lack for stars.
Northamptonshire don’t carry as many stars names into battle with them but that has never bothered them before. Unfortunately for the Steelbacks injuries are starting to hurt. Richard Gleeson is a major doubt while Steven Crook and Oli Stone are ruled out. Seekkuge Prasanna hasn’t been made available for them.
Before we go into any bets we have to make mention of the potential weather where the forecast is NOT good. Rain is forecast throughout this semi-final and at the time of typing which is some 15hrs before the event, it looks certain that we are going to get a shortened match and that is how I’m going to bet on it.
Realistically in a shortened match there aren’t a lot of markets that are going to avoid being voided but one which is comes in the most sixes where Northamptonshire could be a touch overpriced at 8/5. They don’t lack for hitters in their top five in fact they are full of them and they have a couple of players who can come up the order and deliver the goods.
Nottinghamshire don’t lack for hitters either but the difference could be in the two bowling attacks. Northamptonshire as a rule don’t concede many sixes. They bowl tight lines and good lengths and are notoriously hard to get away whereas Nottinghamshire bowl for wickets but if it goes wrong they can go the distance. At the prices I’ll take the value which is in Northamptonshire.
It could be worth playing the top batsmen markets in this match too and if we get a shortened match we might get value in a big hitter who goes up the order to accelerate the run rate. Both sides have one of them. Andre Russell looks an obvious choice for Nottinghamshire while Rory Kleinveldt, coming in here off the back of clubbing 70 odd in the Royal London One Day Cup on Thursday, can do it for Northamptonshire.
There’s a lot of ifs and buts and things that need to fall into place for either of these to land but the best thing is that even if the weather clears up and the rain stays away both are decent enough batsmen to deliver a score in their own right. Any movement up the order, which has to be an option given the forecast, would only strengthen the chances. I’ll dabble at both at the prices.
Back Northamptonshire Most 6s for a 3/10 stake at 2.60 with Betfair
Back them here:
WON – Back A.Russell Top Nottinghamshire Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 9.00 with 888sport
Back R.Kleinveldt Top Northamptonshire Batsman for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Ladbrokes