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T20 Finals Day: Cricket Preview

The stage is set for more thrills and spills in Finals Day at Edgbaston as the 2023 Vitality Blast reaches its climax with a triple-header of T20 action on Saturday.

The four remaining teams from the southern region – Essex, Hampshire Hawks, Surrey, and Somerset, will battle it out to claim the coveted title.

The first semi-final will see Essex take on Hampshire. Following that, Surrey and Somerset will go head-to-head.

While all four teams have experienced success on previous Finals Days, Surrey, despite their prestigious status, have yet to add to their 2003 victory in the inaugural season. They have come close, finishing as runners-up on three occasions, most recently in 2020.

Somerset, on the other hand, have a bittersweet history on Finals Day. They were crowned champions in 2005 but have since fallen short in the final four times, including a heartbreaking three-year run from 2009 to 2011. 

Their most memorable defeat came in 2010 when they missed a chance to run out an injured Dan Christian off the final ball, resulting in a tie. Hampshire won that match by having lost fewer wickets.

Hampshire, the defending champions, are well-versed in producing thrilling victories on Finals Day. They have won the tournament three times, a record they share with Leicestershire. 

Their triumph last year was a nail-biter that went down to the wire. In a dramatic finish, with Lancashire Lightning needing four runs to win off the last ball, Hampshire’s Nathan Ellis bowled a no-ball, giving away two runs and an extra delivery. However, he recovered to concede just one run from the subsequent free hit, securing an extraordinary win.

Essex have made it to Finals Day on five occasions but reached the final only once in 2019, the same year they lifted the trophy. 

DragonBet make Hampshire favourites to beat Essex at 4/7 with Essex priced at 5/4.

In the second semi final, Somerset are 3 / 4 favourites, with Surrey at 19/20.

Somerset appear to be the team to beat based on their impressive form. They won 12 out of their 14 group games and narrowly defeated Notts Outlaws in the quarter-finals.

However, Somerset did suffer defeats against fellow finalists Surrey and Hampshire during the group stage. 

They had a dominant victory over the Hawks, dismissing them for just 74 runs, but Hampshire gained revenge by winning a thrilling five-run encounter in their second meeting. 

Surrey also defeated Somerset in Taunton, thanks to a superb 60-run contribution from Will Jacks and a five-wicket haul by Sam Curran.

Surrey secured their spot in the quarter-finals by winning eight of their first 11 games. 

However, they stumbled with three consecutive defeats to end the group stage, including a shock loss to Middlesex, who broke their 14-game losing streak by successfully chasing a Vitality Blast-record total of 254 at The Oval.

In their quarter-final, Surrey bounced back to form, ending Lancashire’s unbeaten 21-game record at home in the Blast. Jason Roy played a pivotal role, scoring a superb  50 to lead Surrey to victory at Old Trafford.

Hampshire also had a smooth path to qualifying, despite starting with two defeats in their initial three matches. 

They finished second in the South Group, winning nine out of 14 games, and comfortably defeated Worcestershire in the quarter-finals by bowling them out for a mere 100 runs en route to a five-wicket win.

Essex’s journey to Finals Day was not as straightforward. Their qualification was in the balance until their final match, where they beat Surrey and received help from Somerset, who defeated their rivals, Kent, to secure the fourth spot.

 In the quarter-finals, facing North Group winners Birmingham on a seven-game winning streak, Essex clinched a tense two-wicket victory at Edgbaston.

The schedule for the 2022 Vitality Blast Finals Day is as follows:

11am – Essex vs Hampshire Hawks

2:30pm – Surrey vs Somerset

6:45pm – Final

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