Richard Mann takes a look at Friday's action from the Vitality Blast and has a couple of bets in his staking plan.
1pt Moeen Ali to be Man of the Match at 6/1 (bet365, VBet)
2pts Essex Eagles to beat Hampshire Hawks at 19/20 (BetVictor)
Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Worcestershire Rapids have bagged the coveted Friday night slot on Sky Sports, Worcestershire again in front of the TV cameras having played out a thrilling tie with Nottinghamshire Outlaws on Wednesday.
Having raced to 76-0, quite how the Outlaws failed to chase down a victory target of 153 is still hard to fathom, but great credit must go to a Rapids bowling attack that is sure to rely heavily on spin duo MOEEN ALI and Ish Sodhi throughout the summer.
Sodhi was a late signing in place of Sandeep Lamichhane but he bowled beautifully on Wednesday and the veteran Kiwi will be a handful if the dry weather in England continues.
Two wickets for Moeen suggests he is set to continue the rich vein of form he displayed at the IPL for Chennai Super Kings and he looks worth a bet for Man of the Match honours.
Before the IPL was postponed, Ali had struck 206 runs in only six matches at a strike-rate of 157.25, while his bowling had earned him five wickets.
With his Test career now seemingly over, and perhaps the pressures that come with it also lifted from his shoulders, Ali played with real freedom and confidence in India, and we can expect more of the same this summer.
As ever, he is Worcestershire’s captain and main man in this form of the game and I’m happy to bet that he can drive his side to victory on this occasion.
This represents Northamptonshire’s first match of the 2021 Blast, a competition in which they have continually punched above their weight and made the quarter-finals last year.
The prospect of playing their first three matches at home offers them the chance to make another strong start, but with no Paul Stirling this time around, they need more runs from their top order.
Elsewhere on Friday, ESSEX EAGLES rate a strong bet at 19/20 to see off Hampshire Hawks at Chelmsford.
A 25-ball 53 from James Neesham powered Essex to victory over a strong Somerset side on Wednesday.
Essex looked to have plenty on their plate in pursuit of 186, but their batting can still call upon the likes of Ryan ten Doeschate and Tom Westley and remains a formidable unit.
With the bowling featuring the likes of Sam Cook, Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer, the 2019 champions are a fine, all-round side and they should have too much for a Hampshire outfit that were well beaten by Kent Spitfires on Wednesday.
They are evidently capable of better, but having struggled badly in this tournament last year, have a few questions to answer at present and will find Essex a tough nut to crack on their own patch.
Posted at 1440 BST on 10/06/21
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