T20 Blast set for crucial clashes in the North and South groups

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There are 16 teams in action in the Natwest T20 Blast on Friday evening, and it will be an important night in both groups.

North Group

Currently both Lancashire and Worcestershire top the table with six wins from their eight games so far. However, neither side will take their opposition lightly in week seven on Friday night.

Worcestershire travel to fourth placed Nottinghamshire who have been very inconsistent this season so far but are more than capable of causing an upset. With match-winners such as Alex Hales in their line-up it will only take one fantastic innings or a crucial spell of bowling to upset the form book.

Headingley hosts the game of the day as Roses rivals Yorkshire and Lancashire do battle for the second time this season. Yorkshire emerged triumphant at Old Trafford in the last game in a fantastic match with Australian Aaron Finch proving to be the match-winner.

The outcome of this match may well depend on the battle between Finch and Lancashire's star bowler Junaid Khan. Yorkshire need a victory to keep up the pressure on the top sides in what is their first game in a crucial week in the T20 Blast but Lancashire will prove a very difficult opponent.

Bottom of the table, and winless Derbyshire face a difficult task against visitors Warwickshire, who are handily placed in third in the table and looking to exert pressure on the top two with a victory. Warwickshire also have a game in hand and will be hoping that the top two slip-up in their tough encounters.

In the final game in the North Group Durham and Northamptonshire meet at Northampton. Both sides have struggled this season, particularly Northants who look like relinquishing the title they so dramatically won last season, with a whimper. Too often recently their top players have failed to perform but they will need to reverse their fortunes very quickly if they are to get back into contention.

South Group

Joint league leaders Hampshire and Essex face tricky away games during week seven.

Hampshire, fresh from victory on Wednesday evening against Glamorgan, face Surrey at The Oval. Hampshire will be wary of Kevin Pietersen but will now have to also negate the impact of Sri Lankan star Tillakaratne Dilshan who looks set to make his debut.

Dilshan is a one-day superstar and he could win a game on his own on his day and third placed Surrey will hope he can catapult them to final's day during his short stint at he club. In Jason Roy Surrey have one of the in-form players in the South Group so are not just dependant on what many people see as their star names.

However, nobody would bet against Hampshire winning again, particularly if they have to defend a total, which they have become very adept at doing under the leadership of James Vince. They have a team who have the skills to beat anyone in T20 games.

Essex face a Somerset side at Taunton who boast the leading run scorer in the competition so far, Craig Kieswetter, with 358 runs. Somerset have been very inconsistent this season but they must not be taken lightly on their home ground where a high scoring game is predicted. Essex will be looking to Ravi Bopara to continue his recent form as they try to be the outright leaders of the group by Friday night.

Kent visit Gloucestershire as they look for victory to move them into a threatening position in the league. Rob Key has had a fantastic T20 season, with 272 runs, and again will be crucial to Kent's chances.

Gloucestershire need victories if they are to climb away from their second from bottom position. Thursday night saw Gloucestershire escape from a possible defeat to bottom of the table Middlesex as the weather intervened with Gloucs only able to post 105-6 in their 20 overs. Defeat would have seen the Bristol-based side swap places with Middlesex at the foot of the table.

In the final game in the South Group Middlesex will hope to build on their recent upturn in form as they face another struggling side, Sussex, at Hove. Both sides will be looking for a victory which will hopefully turn their fortunes around, and give them more confidence, for the rest of the competition.

Friday's full T20 Blast fixtures

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire
Yorkshire v Lancashire
Derbyshire v Warwickshire
Northamptonshire v Durham

Surrey v Hampshire
Somerset v Essex
Gloucestershire v Kent
Sussex v Middlesex

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