T20 Finals Day preview: Lancashire stars can finally shine
Coral preview the four remaining teams left in this year’s T20 Finals Day at Edgbaston, with the two South Division Counties and former winners joint-favourites. Home side Birmingham Bears face Surrey first in a repeat of the 2003 final, while Hampshire take on Lancashire Lightning in the other semi. But back Lancashire to cause an upset in the showdown later in the evening.
International stars are set to line up for their respective counties, and you can expect the likes of Kevin Pietersen, James Anderson, Jos Buttler and even Andrew Flintoff to feature.
First place prize money this year is £175k, but the victors will not take part in the Champions League, due to England’s County season running on until the end of September.
Birmingham Bears – 7/2
Despite having home advantage, at Edgbaston, the Midlands side are outsiders to win the competition out of the remaining four counties. Birmingham, formerly Warwickshire, will be taking part in their first Finals Day since the tournament’s inauguration in 2003, where they lost to their semi-final opponents this year.
The Bears will be relying on this season’s second-highest wicket taker and New Zealand international Jeetan Patel (23 at an astonishing average of 10.52), and all-rounder Rikki Clarke, with the latter speaking ahead of the event.
“We know we only scraped through from the group thanks to Nottinghamshire doing us a favour at Yorkshire but we are peaking at the right time,” he said. “Realistically, we are underdogs due to the simple fact that we have not been to a finals day for 11 years.”
Surrey – 9/4
Pietersen will be the main talking point of course for this competition, but the former England great has been in poor form ever since his exile from the international set-up. But we all know he performs on the big stage.
Surrey will be without Sri Lanka superstar Tillakaratne Dilshan, who has returned home, but have the brilliant young South African-born batsman Jason Roy. The 24-year-old top the scoring charts this season, in terms of runs scored, with 619 from 14 innings at an average of 47.61.
If both Roy and Pietersen can perform, expect last year’s runners-up to shine and win their first T20 since 2003.
Hampshire – 9/4
Hampshire have won two of the last four T20 competitions, and that is why they are joint-favourites with their fellow southern counterparts Surrey. However, they face a star-studded Lancashire side.
Captain James Vince smashed a stunning 93 not out off 51 balls in the quarter-final against and decent Nottinghamshire side, while Michael Carberry will also pose a threat.
In the bowling department, spinner Danny Briggs is their danger man. The young England international has the third-highest amount of wickets this T20 season, with 21 at an average of 19.14.
Lancashire Lightning – 3/1
Not fancied by Coral, possibly due to the fact they have never won the competition, but Lancashire arguably face the easier of the southern sides, Hampshire, who finished third in their group. Lightning, who have reached at least the quarters in eight of the last 10 T20 seasons, topped the North Division and possibly boast the most exciting and talented team.
The likes of superstar bowler Anderson and the smashing Buttler, who continuously fails to impress at all levels, return from England duty to aid their County.
Lancashire already have two of the top five leading wicket-takers this term, in Junaid Khan and Kabir Ali (19 wickets each), and, with Flintoff declared fit to play, they boast a devastating bowling attack.
Their battling line-up is equally impressive, with former South Africa player Ashwell Prince and Australia international Usman Khawaja at the top order.