Preview: Battle of equals with Worcestershire having slight edge vs Nottinghamshire
The Vitality T20 Blast 2019 has now entered its final stages with the four semi-finalists finally decided. The 1st semi-final of the tournament will take place on the 21st of September at Edgbaston between the Notts Outlaws and Worcestershire Rapids.
Nottinghamshire finished second in the points table with 16 points (6 wins and 4 losses) at a healthy net run-rate of +0.336. Meanwhile, Worcestershire ended the group stage in the 4th position, earning 15 points with 6 wins and 5 losses and a net run rate of +0.205.
It will be fascinating to see how the two teams fare when they face-off in the 1st semi-final. Interestingly, both the teams are coming off comprehensive victories in their last games. Nottinghamshire beat Middlesex by 10 wickets in the Quarter Final 2 at Trent Bridge and Worcestershire beat Sussex by 8 wickets in the Quarter Final 3 at Hove.
Hence, both the teams would be riding on confidence and it would be a battle of equals in this much-awaited semi-final clash. One point worth noting is that Nottinghamshire lost the only game between the two sides in the group stages by 28 runs. But in a knock-out game, anything can happen.
The Notts would be depending on opener Alex Hales (366 runs in the series) whose scintillating form has led them to the semi-final stage. Then there is young Joe Clarke (248 runs) whose contribution could be vital. The likes of Ben Duckett (206 runs) and wicket-keeper batsman Tom Moores (217 runs) would be vital too. Opener Chris Nash who scored a sparkling unbeaten 74 in the quarter-final against Middlesex – his first game of the tournament – has added a new zing to the Nottinghamshire batting.
Their bowling has a lot of variety with Harry Gurney leading the way (20 wickets) and Matthew Carter, Luke Wood and Imad Wasim providing good support. The spin bowling of Wasim and Carter could, in fact, be crucial in the semis.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire has a lot going for it with a batting unit in healthy form. Leading the way is Riki Wessels (396 runs), their highest run-getter. Moeen Ali’s sensational unbeaten 121 off 60 balls in the quarter-final against Sussex will give the team a great edge. With opener Martin Guptill gone for international duties, Worcestershire would hope that the other opener Joe Leach steps up along with wicket-keeper batsman Joe Leach.Embed from Getty Images
The team’s bowling has been decent but they have leaked runs. Fast bowler Pat Brown (14 wickets) has got wickets but has also been expensive. Same is the case with seamer Ed Barnard. The spin of Moeen Ali could be detrimental if the pitch is a little slow.
Match prediction: Worcestershire vs Nottinghamshire, 1st Semi-Final, Vitality T20 Blast 2019
Birmingham has seen some big scores being scored in the ongoing Vitality T20 Blast 2019. In fact, the last match here – between Warwickshire and Yorkshire – saw a total of 481 runs being scored in 40 overs. Hence, expect a good batting surface for the 1st Semi-Final between Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire with a minimum of 350 runs being scored by both the teams.
The team batting first should get in the range of 170-180. Anything more and chasing would be tough as slower bowlers can make batting difficult.
Both the teams are equally matched and high on confidence for this high-octane semi-final clash. On the day, either of the two can emerge the winner. But Worcestershire is the better, all-round team with a stronger batting unit. They are hence likely to be the one to progress to the finals.