T20 Blast Finals Day: Birmingham favourites to defend title
The t20 Blast Finals Day is almost upon us, and this year sees three of the four 2014 semi-finalists return to Edgbaston, as title holders Birmingham Bears face Northamptonshire Steelbacks, while there is a re-match between Hampshire and Lancashire Lightning.
Coral preview those two fixtures, with the winners to face off on the same day for the title.
Northamptonshire v Birmingham
Champions in 2013, Northamptonshire (13/10 for victory in this match) face their successors and current title holders Birmingham (Warwickshire) in the first semi of the day, with the latter odds-on favourites at 8/13 to reach the final.
The latter won both of their battles this term against the Steelbacks in the North Division, both being incredibly close encounters thanks to half century knocks from Ireland international William Porterfield and Varun Chopra. The duo are both priced at 3/1 to be best batsmen again.
Recent Ashes winner with England, Ian Bell, meanwhile, could also feature on his home ground, and is a 7/2 shout for the Bears. His team are 2/1 competition favourites.
Northamptonshire (4/1 outsiders to reclaim the title), meanwhile, will have the likes of Yorkshire-bound David Willey, who recently smashed a sensational 40-ball century against Sussex Sharks in the quarters, to call upon. Willey, the son of former England international Peter, is 11/4 to be top Steelbacks batsman.
Young pretender and rising star Ben Duckett has also impressed for the county this season, and is a tempting 11/2 shout.
Hampshire v Lancashire
In the other match, it is a repeat of the semi-final last season, and double champions Hampshire (slight match favourites) will be hoping to take revenge on Lancashire (evens).
The southern side (5/2 title chances) will be hoping to rely on star batsman James Vince, who has a total of 641 this season so far in this tournament, which is the second-equal highest. He is 11/4 to top the scoring for his team again. Michael Carberry (also 11/4) will be in support.
However, the duo will be up against Stephen Parry, who has taken 21 wickets so far from his 14 innings, at an average of just 16.57. The spinner is 3/1 to be best bowler for Lancashire.
Lightning are the only county from this Finals Day line-up to have never won the title since the competition began back in 2003, but they will be aiming to reach their third final. The northerners are 3/1 shouts to go all the way and lift the trophy.
To help them with the bat, will be super smasher Jos Buttler (11/2 to be best Lancashire batsman) and former South Africa international Ashwell Prince (5/2), who both helped guide their team to a thrilling win over Kent Spitfires in the quarters.
Coral’s top tip: Birmingham Bears topped the North Division table, and look great shouts at 2/1 to defend their title on home soil