Leicestershire Foxes and Derbyshire Falcons have started the 2021 Vitality Blast with a loss each.
Leicestershire Foxes to win.
Leicestershire and Derbyshire have both started their 2021 Vitality Blast journey with a loss in their very first game itself. Incidentally, both of them lost the match against the same team – Lancashire. While the Derbyshire Derbyshire Falcons were walloped by 6 wickets against the Lancs, the Leicestershire Foxes faced a 16-run drubbing. Now, both the teams from the North Group will be facing off against each other on the 11th of June at Leicester. Playing at home, Leicestershire will certainly have the advantage and will be looking to add the first points in their kitty.
Last season’s quarter-finalists Leicestershire Foxes haven’t reached Finals Day since 2011. But their surprisingly good performance last year will give them some hope. The Foxes squeezed into the knock-out stage last time after eking out wings against Nottinghamshire and Lancashire before facing an unlucky exit in a low-scoring quarter-final. They started their 2021 journey with a 16-run loss against Lancashire where they could manage only 156-5 while chasing a target of 173.
The opening combo of Scott Steel and Josh Inglis does look solid. But Aaron Lilley, who was the leading run-getter for the Foxes last season, will have a lot to do this year too at the No.3 position. Captain Colin Ackermann’s role in the middle-order will be crucial as well. Rishi Patel, who hit an exciting cameo of 32 off 17 balls in the last game, will be someone to watch out for.
Gavin Griffiths (10 wickets @ 18.00) and Callum Parkinson (10 wickets @ 21.00) were the leading wicket-takers for Leicestershire last season. While Parkinson had an off day in the match against the Lancs, Griffiths shined with a spell of 4-24. 21-year-old Afghanistan fast bowler Naveen-ul-Haq, known for his unusual action and an array of slower balls, can be their ace in the pack this season.
Josh Inglis (wk), Scott Steel, Arron Lilley, Colin Ackermann (c), Lewis Hill, Rishi Patel, Ben Mike, Callum Parkinson, Will Davis, Gavin Griffiths, Naveen-ul-Haq
Naveen-ul-Haq, Gavin Griffiths, Callum Parkinson, Lewis Hill, Colin Ackermann, Scott Steel, Josh Inglis, Ben Mike, Arron Lilley, Rishi Patel, William Davis
The Derbyshire Falcons had a forgettable last season where they finished 6th in the North Group. In fact, Derbyshire won fewer games in the 2020 Blast than anyone. Moreover, no batsman from the team made it past 200 runs; Wayne Madsen was the leading run-scorer with 192 runs. No bowler, meanwhile, took more than 5 wickets. So, clearly, there’s much for the Flacons to rectify this time around.
Unfortunately, Derbyshire have started their campaign with a heavy loss - by 6 wickets against Lancashire. While they posted a healthy 168-7 after batting first, the opposition chased the target down with ease as the Derbyshire bowlers simply lacked any penetration. Opener Luis Reece was the highest scorer in the game for Derbyshire with his aggressive 59 off 32 balls. However, all the others, including Wayne Madsen, failed. The Falcons will miss having the services of Ben McDermott, the destructive T20 batsman from Australia, following a national call-up.
The team’s bowling looks a little weak again. The loss of Australian fast bowler Billy Stanlake is a blow. But his replacement Logan van Beek is a good option. All-rounder Alex Hughes is also a consistent performer.
Billy Godleman (c), Luis Reece, Wayne Madsen, Leus du Plooy, Alex Hughes, Matthew Critchley, Fynn Hudson-Prentice, Brooke Guest (wk), Alex Thomson, Logan van Beek, Michael Cohen
Matthew JJ Critchley, Alex Thomson, Michael Cohen, Harry Came, Fynn Hudson Prentice, Alex Hughes, Brooke Guest, Luis Reece, Billy Godleman, A Leus du Plooy, Logan van Beek
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The wicket at Grace Road, Leicester, isn’t exactly a batting paradise. But it does tend to stay true throughout the game. Slower bowlers and medium pacers have traditionally done well here in T20s. However, the first few overs will be crucial for the batting side as if they can get themselves set, they can make a big impact later.
The weather at Leicester is expected to be cloudy today. But there’s no threat of rain, thankfully.
The average batting score at Grace Road, Leicester over the last 5 years has fluctuated between 160-170 runs. So don’t expect a high-scoring match. The team batting first would be aiming to score somewhere in the range of 170-odd runs.
Teams batting second have won more games on this venue and hence the team winning the toss should look to bowl first in this game.
In the last 5 matches between Leicestershire Foxes and Derbyshire Falcons, Derbyshire has won 2 games while Leicestershire has won 1; one game was abandoned while another didn’t have any result. Looking at the strengths of the overall squads of both the teams this time, Leicestershire does seem more balanced. They have a good batting unit and have some solid wicket-takers. Moreover, they will be playing at home. Derbyshire’s batting revolves around a couple of batsmen while their bowling looks pretty hollow. Unless they put up a special performance, the Foxes should dominate this game.
Leicestershire Foxes to win.