Vitality Blast 2019 Semifinal 2, Derbyshire Falcons vs Essex Eagles: Preview, predictions, likely XIs

Vitality Blast 2019 Semifinal 2, Derbyshire Falcons vs Essex Eagles: Preview, predictions, likely XIs

Vitality Blast

Finals' Day of Vitality Blast 2019 will feature three matches, at Edgbaston. Immediately after Worcestershire Rapids and Nottinghamshire Outlaws are done with the first semi-final, Derbyshire Falcons will take on Essex Eagles for the second.

Derbyshire's has been the fairytale adventure of the season. Till now they were the only county to not have made a single appearance in the Finals' Day. That has been rectified this time – thanks to a run of 6 wins in 7 matches (including the quarterfinal against Gloucestershire).

The quarterfinal was decided by the bowlers, four of whom bowled their full quota for 6.50 or below an over to restrict the hosts to 135/7. The chase, clinical if slightly cautious, was pulled off with 17 balls in hand.

They have been without a single superstar this time, but excellent team selection, combined with one energetic display on field after another, have helped Billy Godleman and Dominic Cork's side reach the top four.

While Ravi Rampaul has been the standout bowler, he has received excellent support from Matt Critchley and Alex Hughes. The Falcons have not scored big too often, and will have to depend on Wayne Madsen and Leus du Plooy if they have to do that at Edgbaston.

Essex shocked some by dismantling North Division toppers Lancashire Lightning in the quarterfinals. Ravi Bopara brought all his experience to the fore, starring with 4-0-28-2 and an 18-ball 39 not out in a 6-wicket win.

With the explosive Cameron Delport and Dan Lawrence up the order and the steady Ryan ten Doeschate in the middle, the Eagles have one of the more formidable batting line-ups. The bowling has looked a bit thin since Mohammad Amir signed off, but Adam Zampa and captain Simon Harmer are an enviable spin pair.

Head to head

Essex and Derbyshire have never met in the history of the tournament: the latter, after all, have never made it to the Finals' Day.

Key players

Ravi Rampaul (Derbyshire Falcons): The highest wicket-taker in the tournament so far, Rampaul (22 wickets, economy 6.64) has been the MVP of the Falcons' "Moneyball" outfit. He will have to rise to the challenge again.

Ravi Bopara (Essex Eagles): Bopara's tournament aggregate – strike rate 170, 10 wickets, economy 7.57 – indicate how crucial he has been to the Eagles this season. With 70* and 1/32, 47* and 2/27, and 2/28 and 39*, he has also peaked at the right time.

Likely XIs

Derbyshire Falcons: Luis Reece, Billy Godleman (c), Wayne Madsen, Leus du Plooy, Alex Hughes, Matt Critchley, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Daryn Smit (wk), Logan van Beek, Anuj Dal, Ravi Rampaul.

Essex Eagles: Tom Westley, Cameron Delport, Adam Wheater (wk), Dan Lawrence, Ryan ten Doeschate, Ravi Bopara, Paul Walter, Simon Harmer (c), Aaron Beard, Jamie Porter, Adam Zampa.

Prediction

Derbyshire to continue with their fairytale.