The second season of The Hundred continues on Thursday evening when the two London sides meet for the first time in this campaign when the Oval Invincibles welcome the London Spirit to The Oval as both teams get their tournament underway.
Oval pushed for the semi-final last season but couldn’t quite get there. The latter stages of the competition were a pipedream for the Spirit from an early stage so both teams head into this campaign with something of a point to prove.
The Oval Invincibles will be looking to improve on what was a moderate showing by expectations last season. They will be boosted by the form of Surrey this season as the spine of their squad come from the home county at the Kia Oval but injuries haven’t done them any favours so it will be interesting to see just how balanced they are in this match. With only four home matches in this competition there is always pressure on the home team to deliver.
There are plenty of questions over the Invincibles heading into this campaign. The first is the form of some of their more important players from last season. Jason Roy was their top scorer over the course of the campaign but his recent outings for England have been ordinary, while top wicket taker, Tom Curran, has hardly played this term and hasn’t bowled since the Big Bash in December. With two of the top five scorers from last season no longer with the Invincibles they need someone to stand up and be counted.
The London Spirit were pretty ordinary last season it has to be said. They only won one match and even that needed a collapse late on from the opposition for them to deliver. To be fair to the Spirit, their hopes of achieving anything pretty much faded before the tournament began because they had so many issues getting overseas players into the country. They haven’t had that problem this time around so there should be a natural improvement in the Lord’s based outfit.
Two things immediately spring to mind when assessing the chances of the London Spirit this season. The first is that this is their first campaign since the passing of Shane Warne and there will be a sense of doing it for him. The other thing is there is a strong Hampshire flavour to this team and given that they won the Vitality Blast just two weeks ago that can’t be a bad thing. The likes of Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell and Nathan Ellis should bring natural improvement to the Spirit.
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Will Jacks heads into The Hundred in the form of his life and with his opening partner struggling for runs at the minute the Oval Invincibles will need all the runs Jacks can muster. He might also be call on for a five ball spell somewhere too.
I fancy Glenn Maxwell is going to be a leading player for the London Spirit while he is in the competition because I expect spin to be a key element of the tournament. He not only smashes spin out of the park but can bowl some handy offies himself so he is likely to be key to any London win.
I think this is a good opportunity for the London Spirit to get off to a good start this season. I say that because if the Oval Invincibles are to do anything this term I fancy them to improve as the campaign goes on because Rilee Rossouw is still with the South Africa squad and Jason Roy and Tom Curran have plenty to prove given their recent form. In a lot of ways the London Spirit have a free shot here with this being an away match for them.
The Spirit could if they wanted to pick the entire Hampshire bowling attack which won the Vitality Blast final with the exception of James Fuller. Nathan Ellis offers Eoin Morgan a world class death option which they lacked last season while Ben McDermott, Glenn Maxwell and Dan Lawrence bring firepower with the bat. I think the form of the star quality in the Spirit side is just a little more convincing than the Oval team at the minute so the visitors might be being underrated due to last season rather than the here and now.
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