The Natwest T20 blast returns this week in the North Group with eight of the nine teams in action.
Lancashire Lightning currently lead the way having won their last four games, whilst Derbyshire Falcons prop up the table having not won a game yet, and their only point coming from a wash-out.
Lancashire Lightning vs Yorkshire Vikings (Friday June 6 - 18:30)
The Vikings travel to Old Trafford on the back of a comfortable eight-wicket victory at home to the Falcons. The Vikings start to the T20 blast has been somewhat unsettled however, with one game rained off and a close defeat in their first game against current T20 holders Northamptonshire.
With no stand out performances to date, the Vikings face a tough test against a confident Lancashire Lightning. Lightning could welcome back an England legend in the shape of Andrew Flintoff, who will boost a side already brimming with confidence.
Karl Brown has hit two 50’s and looks in great touch, whilst Pakistani international Junaid Khan is proving a worthwhile signing with the ball having taken 7-33 in his previous two games. Nevertheless, this latest instalment in the battle of the roses is sure to provide a fascinating spectacle.
Verdict: Lancashire Lightning
Derbyshire Falcons vs Nottinghamshire Outlaws (Friday June 6 – 19:00)
The Falcons will look to get their campaign up and running in front of an expected sell-out crowd when their blockbuster, star filled local rivals, the Nottinghamshire Outlaws come to town for a Friday night showdown.
In-form Aussie batsmen Marcus North could play a key role for The Falcons, however their bowlers will also need to step up to the mark having only taken nine wickets as a whole unit in three games.
The Outlaws will boast their usual host of superstars, including international opener’s Michael Lumb and Alex Hales, along with James Taylor and Chris Read. The only doubt for The Outlaws is Samit Patel, who may not be available for selection should he be selected in the England test squad. Despite this, The Outlaws will go in as strong favourites.
Verdict: Nottinghamshire Outlaws
Leicestershire Foxes vs Worcestershire Rapids (Friday June 6 – 18:30)
The Foxes will go into their game against The Rapids with a strong batting line up available for selection. The Foxes Batting line-up includes international veteran’s Scott Styris and Ramnaresh Sarwan.
Both stars have made contributions, however, opener Josh Cobb is the only batsmen to have scored 100+ runs so far. Youngster Tom Wells made an impact with 51 off 30 balls in a losing cause against The Bears, and could be one to watch for the rest of their campaign.
Worcestershire Rapids will feel they are favourites to come out on top in this tie, having won two of their four games. Unlike the Foxes, The Rapids look to dominate with the ball, and their star man Saeed Ajmal will be a handful for any batting line up in world cricket.
Ajmal has not been alone however, with England prospect Moeen Ali, Jack Shantry and Chris Russell all chipping in, taking 18 wickets between them. Home fans will be hoping that on this occasion bat will overcome ball.
Verdict: Worcestershire Rapids
Birmingham Bears vs Durham Jets (Friday June 6 – 18:30)
The big news for The Bears is the introduction of their overseas signing Shoaib Malik, who will be available for selection. The Bears won their recent game in style with a 25 run victory over Leicestershire Foxes.
Bears captain Porterfield scored 67* and looked in fine form whilst Jeetan Patel holds the best economy rate of any bowler in this years Natwest T20 Blast. Durham Jets make the 200 mile trip south having won two of their three games so far this campaign and will feel confident of picking up a third win.
The Dynamos stand out performer has been Scottish international Calum Macleod who has hit 137 runs in three innings. Durham like a number of teams this week may lose out however if Ben Stokes is selected for England.
Following the ODI at Edgbaston on Tuesday, conditions can be expected to be very similar, which will play into the hands of the Birmingham Bears host of spin options.
Verdict: Birmingham Bears
Worcestershire Rapids vs Durham Jets (Saturday June 7 – 14:30)
Durham Jets’ weekend in the midlands continues with a trip to New Road. The Jets along with the Rapids will be looking to close the gap on Lancashire at the top of the table, and these two games in 24 hours will provide the perfect opportunity, given the Jets aren’t nursing Saturday afternoon hangovers. The two sides have already met in their opening games of the campaign in which Durham came out on top comfortably. The Rapids will however, be looking for revenge, and hoping that their batsmen find some form to complement their strong bowling attack.
Verdict: Worcestershire Rapids
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