Man of the Match: Will Jacks
Vitality Blast 2020: Kent to face the Surrey juggernaut
Confident Surrey favourites to win!
The second quarterfinal of Vitality Blast 2020 features South Group table toppers Surrey taking on third-placed Kent in what is a home game for the former. The two teams faced off in their respective last fixtures at the same venue on September 20, a clash that Surrey won comfortably. Apart from the obvious home advantage, this is something that should give them a slight psychological edge so to speak. But Kent have also benefited from that game and would know where they went wrong, thereby getting the chance to correct those things heading into this knockout fixture.
Surrey have been clinical all season, but all that would count for nothing if they slip-up now. A home quarterfinal is a huge boost and they would be raring to seal a semifinal spot. Kent though, have been quietly efficient and aren’t a side that can be written off that easily. They are the only team to have beaten Surrey this season, and that makes this contest all the more interesting.
A top-order comprising of Jason Roy and Laurie Evans is simply hard to stop, and that’s what makes Surrey’s batting intimidating right from the start. While Roy was a late entrant due to his injury, Evans along with Will Jacks have been responsible for a fair chunk of Surrey’s batting returns this season. Hashim Amla too filled in briefly with moderate success. But Roy’s return at the right time is a massive boost for Surrey and he showed in the previous encounter against Kent what a priceless T20 cricketer he is, particularly top of the order.
Their bowling has also been efficient, with the likes of Moriarty, Topley and Batty forming the crux of the attack. The best thing for Surrey has been the fact that their wins have nicely spread across batting first and second. Which means that they have been flexible in their approach and that should hold the side in good stead heading into the business end of the tournament. There is a good mix of youth and experience in the unit. Playing at home for this quarterfinal should be the cherry on the cake. With a seven-match winning streak on, they wouldn’t want it to be halted anytime soon.
J Roy, W Jacks, L Evans, R Burns(c), J Smith(wk), R Clarke, J Overton, L Plunkett, D Moriarty, R Topley, M Dunn
Ben Foakes, Gareth Batty, Jason Roy, Will Jacks, Hashim Amla, Rory Burns, Liam Plunkett, Jamie Overton, Laurie Evans, Daniel Moriarty, R Topley
Their fortunes have been largely driven by their openers Danielle Bell-Drummond and Zak Crawley, both of whom have not only scored runs at the top of the order but also done so at a frenetic strike rate of 150-plus. It’s meant that the load has been eased on the middle order where there are other matchwinners like Heino Kuhn, Sam Billings and Joe Denly. The experience there means that they have often finished off the good work done by the openers.
The flip side is that the batsmen in the middle order haven’t really got to bat a lot this season and haven’t made a lot of big scores. Even if you factor in the experience, rust is bound to be there, particularly in these pandemic times. The bowling has been effective but nobody has really stood out bar Fred Klaassen. Kent has relied on collective effectiveness than individual brilliance in their bowling and it’s worked in their favour. Being pitted against a potent Surrey side makes their progression difficult but Kent does have the experience of beating them this season – something that no other team has managed to.
Z Crawley, D Bell-Drummond, J Denly, H Kuhn, S Billings(c, wk), J Leaning, G Stewart, M Milnes, F Klaassen, I Qayyum
Daniel Bell-Drummond, Tim Groenewald, Sam Billings, Grant Stewart, Zak Crawley, Fred Klaassen, Matt Milnes, Alex Blake, Jack Leaning, Imran Qayyum, Joe Denly
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||14||4.46 mm.||4.15 k/h||From: SW||100%|
|03h||13||0 mm.||3.42 k/h||From: W||100%|
|06h||11||0 mm.||3.46 k/h||From: WNW||96%|
|09h||13||0 mm.||3.01 k/h||From: WNW||15%|
|12h||15||0 mm.||3.93 k/h||From: WSW||16%|
|15h||15||0.26 mm.||4.59 k/h||From: WSW||52%|
|18h||14||0 mm.||3.21 k/h||From: SSW||48%|
|21h||12||0 mm.||3.36 k/h||From: SSE||100%|
Like everywhere else in England, rain appears to be a concern in London too. Let’s hope that it doesn’t clash much with the match timings. Pitches at The Oval have generally been good for batting with nice bounce and carry. Expect more of the same this time too, although the decks could have slowed down a tad due to tiredness.
The Oval has been widely regarded as one of England’s best batting venues due to the pace and true bounce available, which encourages strokeplay. Bowlers who bend their back also seem to relish the conditions.
Teams prefer to chase in T20s but in a knockout game, especially if it’s not an absolutely flat wicket, batting first isn’t a bad choice either. Rain is also forecast to add to the dilemma. A toss that both captains would be happy to lose.