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Prepare for Finals Day fireworks as T20 big guns descend on Edgbaston

28 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Prepare for Finals Day fireworks as T20 big guns descend on Edgbaston

The Bears, Northants and Hampshire have dominated the competition recently, but could this be the year Lancashire end their T20 heartbreak?

For a competition often criticised for lacking any history, the culmination of this year’s T20 Blast on Saturday is positively brimming with backstories.

Three of the four teams are taking part in their second consecutive Finals Day as part of a line-up that features the overall winners from four of the last five years.

In fact, in the 12 years since the English invented this shortest format of the game, between them they have lifted the trophy four times, been runners-up on three occasions and featured in seven more semi-finals.

All of which would suggest that we are in for quite some spectacle this weekend – but who is looking the best bet to extend their impressive record even further on Saturday?

Northamptonshire Steelbacks

The Steelbacks are certainly the outsiders following an unpredictable campaign that has seen them win just seven of their 14 matches, scoring the lowest amount of runs and taking the fewest wickets of the four sides still standing.

However, three of their five losses came at the very start of the competition when they were missing star man David Willey.willey northantsThe England international is certainly a man for the big occasion having produced a match-winning performance in the 2013 final, and his 40-ball century and three-wicket haul in this month’s quarter-final against Sussex reaffirmed exactly what he is capable of.

Having agreed to join Yorkshire at the end of the season, the inspirational all-rounder will be desperate to leave his home county with a fitting farewell.

He cannot do it on his own however, and the power-hitting of opening partner Richard Levi could be crucial in remaining competitive.

Northants do not bat particularly deep and given the relative struggles of their bowlers so far, it would be fair to assume that they will need a big score whether batting first or second.

3/1 – David Willey to be Northamptonshire’s top batsman

Birmingham Bearsclarke bham bearsPlaying on home soil, Birmingham Bears are looking to make history by becoming the first ever team to win back-to-back titles.

As the most consistent team still standing – winning 10 of their 14 matches so far including six out of eight at Edgbaston – they may just have what it takes.

If the Steelbacks’ strength lies in their top-order batting, the Bears have the perfect weapon to blunt their semi-final opponents in Rikki Clarke.

The opening bowler is officially the most miserly in this year’s competition, with an economy rate of just 5.36 from his 46 overs.Should he succeed in keeping Levi and Willey under wraps, the strike bowlers in Recordo Gordon and Oliver Hannon-Dalby – who have 21 and 19 wickets respectively so far – ought to be able to exploit the resulting scoreboard pressure.

With Irish international William Porterfield averaging over 50 in the competition and Chris Woakes also returning, the Bears ought to have enough to put themselves in a position to retain their crown.

9/2 – Rikki Clarke to be Birmingham Bears’ top bowler

Hampshire Royalsvince hantsHampshire are taking part in a record sixth straight Finals Day and looking to add a third title to their 2010 and 2012 triumph to draw level with Leicestershire as the most successful side in the history of the competition.

Boasting the likes of Michael Carberry and Owais Shah ahead of a talented lower-order, their batting line-up probably has the most strength in depth of the four semi-finalists having only failed to last their 20 overs once.

Yet their key man features right at the very top in captain and opener James Vince, who with 641 runs at an average of 58.27 is the highest scorer still in the competition.

The 24-year-old has hit three centuries in the last three weeks, including a score of 107 against Worcestershire in the quarter-final.

Having just been called up to England’s T20 squad to take on Australia, the in-form batsmen could easily already have people talking before making his international debut next week.

11/4 – James Vince to be Hampshire’s top batsman

Lancashire Lightningfaulkner lancsMaking their sixth appearance, Lancashire will de desperate to end a history of Finals Day disappointment having lost in three semis and two finals to date.

Although missing Junaid Khan and Kabir Ali, they have been boosted by the news that Ashes-winning wicketkeeper Jos Buttler will be available to play after being released by England.

The powerful batsman may have only featured in two games so far this year, but having scored 124 runs from 72 balls during those two knocks there is no doubt that he will provide a welcome boost.Yet the Lightning are most powerful when they have the ball in hand – taking 114 wickets during the competition at an average of more than eight per game to restrict their opponents’ scores.

Like Warwickshire they can also call upon two bowlers with a combined total of 40 wickets in Stephen Parry and James Faulkner.

The latter is also averaging nearly 40 with the bat, and the Australian all-rounder will have to contribute in both innings if Lancashire are to prevail.

They may not have been convincing throughout, but having qualified from the group thanks to a superior run rate and sneaked through the quarter-finals by virtue of losing fewer wickets, luck seems to be on Lancashire’s side for once.

11/4 – James Faulkner to be Lancashire’s top bowler

T20 Blast Finals Day betting