Five matches will be played on Sunday, August 25, in the Vitality Blast 2019: Leicestershire Foxes vs Derbyshire Falcons, Birmingham Bears vs Northamptonshire Steelbacks, Worcestershire Rapids vs Lancashire Lightning, Hampshire vs Essex Eagles, Notts Outlaws vs Yorkshire Vikings
Leicestershire Foxes vs Derbyshire Falcons
Leicestershire face a tough task against Derbyshire, given their massive difference in form. The Foxes have won just three of their 11 matches. A third of their nine points have come from washouts, and heavy defeats haven’t helped their net run-rate. They head into this match after a seven-wicket loss to Nottinghamshire. However, what will boost their confidence is the fact that, in the corresponding fixture just nine days back, they beat Derbyshire by 55 runs.
Derbyshire, meanwhile, have won five of their 11 matches, but have also lost four. They’re a mixed bag. They head into this game on the back of a nine-wicket victory over Northamptonshire, but that loss to the Foxes would have stung them. They’ll do well to remember they had consecutive victories over Yorkshire and Worcestershire before that.
Last season: Leicestershire 149/5 (20) lost to Derbyshire 150/4 (20) by 6 wickets.
Leicestershire 103/4 (14.3) vs Derbyshire. No result.
Players to watch: Colin Ackermann (Leicestershire), Ravi Rampaul (Derbyshire)
Prediction: Derbyshire to win.
Birmingham Bears vs Northamptonshire Steelbacks
Northamptonshire have been unlucky in that four of their matches have been washed out. However, there’s no denying they could have done better in their seven other completed matches – with just two wins in those, it’s no surprise they are at the bottom of the table, with just eight points. Their last victory in the tournament came a month back. Interestingly, it came against Birmingham. Will that buoy them?
We’ll have to wait and see, but Birmingham have come a long way since that loss to the Steelbacks. They head in on the back of a nine-wicket loss to Worcestershire, but there was a triumph over table-topping Lancashire before that. Despite that, 11 points from as many matches isn’t great form – the time is now for them to reverse that run. It’ll be easier said than done.
Last season: Northamptonshire 231/5 (20) tied with Birmingham 231/5 (20).
Birmingham 187/7 (20) beat Northamptonshire 170/7 (20) by 17 runs.
Players to watch: Ben Sanderson (Northamptonshire), Sam Hain (Birmingham)
Prediction: Birmingham to win.
Worcestershire Rapids vs Lancashire Lightning
Lancashire have a fine view from the top of the table, but Worcestershire have machinations to make that view their own eventually. To do that, Worcestershire will have to play out of their skins come Sunday. They are just four points away from Lancashire, and a victory on Sunday will see them cut that down to two points. That’ll be easier said than done, though. The corresponding fixture in Manchester was won by the Lancs. However, Worcestershire head in on the back of consecutive victories, and will draw confidence from that.
Lancashire, meanwhile, last played a full match on August 14. On that occasion, they beat the Northants by eight wickets, in the process bouncing back from a surprise loss to Birmingham before that. Whatever momentum they gained from that win might have evaporated with the break, though, and Lancashire will need to take extra care to ensure that is not the case come Sunday. This should be a cracker.
Last season: Lancashire 188/6 (20) lost to Worcestershire 190/5 (20) by five wickets.
Players to watch: Matt Parkinson (Lancashire), Riki Wessels (Worcestershire)
Prediction: Worcestershire to win.
Hampshire vs Essex Eagles
This is a crucial match for both teams, if only because they’re both so similarly placed, with ten points from 11 matches each. Hampshire is placed at No.6, two places higher than Essex, thanks to their superior net run-rate.
Hampshire head into this match on the back a seven-wicket victory over Middlesex, although they did lose three on the trot before that to Kent, Somerset and Gloucestershire. They will need to build on their victory in the last outing come Sunday.
Essex themselves head in on the back of a win, against Sussex, but their last completed match was on August 7, with three abandoned matches in between that. How will that affect the side?
Last season: Hampshire 170/5 (20) tied with Essex 170/8 (20).
Essex 72/4 (7.5) vs Hampshire. No result.
Players to watch: Tom Westley (Essex), Kyle Abbott (Hampshire)
Prediction: Hampshire to win.
Notts Outlaws vs Yorkshire Vikings
The Notts lost a chance to challenge Lancashire at the top of the table when they lost their clash early in August. Since then, a couple of rained out matches haven’t helped their cause. However, their victory over Leicestershire recently means they head in to this clash against Yorkshire on the back of a win. With Lancashire set to play third-placed Worcestershire, the possibility of a slip-up is high, and the Notts will be waiting to grab any possible chance to claim the top spot.
The Vikings have no such hopes. They’re languishing in the bottom half of the table, just a point better off than bottom-placed Northamptonshire. They will feel good about themselves, having won their last match against Durham, though, and that makes them dangerous opponents the Notts can’t take too lightly. This could be a potential banana-peel. The Outlaws need to be wary.
Last season: Nottinghamshire 212/5 (20) beat Yorkshire 149/7 (20) by 63 runs.
Yorkshire 163/6 (20) lost to Nottinghamshire 169/2 (19) by eight wickets.
Players to watch: Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire)
Prediction: Nottinghamshire to win.