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Why you should back Northamptonshire to beat Yorkshire in the T20 Blast tonight

After over two months of action, the group stage of this year’s Natwest T20 Blast will reach its conclusion tonight (Friday).

Four games will take place in both the North and South groups, with plenty left to play for.

We will focus on the North Group fixture between Northamptonshire Steelbacks and Yorkshire Vikings in Northampton, live on Sky Sports. The pressure is off the hosts in one sense, as they have already secured their passage to the quarter-finals – they cannot finish lower than fourth. Where this game is of interest however, is that there is still a small chance they could win the group if they were to win and Nottinghamshire Outlaws were to lose in their match at home to Leicestershire Foxes, providing they could catch them on net run rate (NRR).

At the same time, a defeat for Northants could allow Yorkshire to move above them into second if the margin of victory allowed Yorkshire’s NRR to surpass Northants’, with a place in the top two bringing with it the reward of a home quarter-final.

For the visitors, a win will guarantee their progression to the last eight, but a defeat would be fine, so long as Birmingham Bears failed to beat Lancashire Lightning or draw and go above Yorkshire on NRR, and the winner of Durham Jets vs Derbyshire Falcons did not win by enough of a margin to topple Yorkshire on NRR.

Northants have won five of their six previous home matches in the tournament this year and in those matches the team batting second has been the victor on five occasions. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect that the captain that wins the toss will bowl first, improving their team’s chances of winning.

Further to Northants’ strong home form, Yorkshire’s away run of Blast results does not read well, losing five of their six away games in the competition.

Overall though, the form book tips the balance in Yorkshire’s favour. Northants have lost three of their last four and Yorkshire have won five of their last six.

Added to that, Yorkshire comfortably won the reverse fixture last Friday at Headingley, with David Willey’s 74 off 46 deliveries helping his team towards 215-6 in their 20 overs, while Ben Duckett’s 51 off 23 balls was not enough for Northants, who were all out for 140 in reply.

Duckett comes into this match in scintillating form, having notched 220 not out for England Lions in a one-day game against Sri Lanka A on Monday, before scoring 46 and 86 in Northants’ last two Royal London One-Day Cup games.

We’re backing the 21-year-old to continue this run of form in tonight’s match and be the top run scorer for his team at 7/2, despite the fact that Josh Cobb is shorter priced at 5/2 and has scored 46 more runs in the competition this year. Duckett boasts a higher average at 45.57 vs 40.55 and a higher strike rate – 136.32 vs 125.42.

For Yorkshire, their top run scorer in the competition this year is Adam Lyth, with 235 runs in nine innings at an average of 26.11, and he scored 87 against Durham in their last T20 game but one.

Willey however, has passed 30 in each of his last three T20 innings, and we’ll select him for our bet to be Yorkshire’s top-scoring batsman at 3/1. His tournament average is 24.71 across eight innings, with 173 runs scored in total.

Overall, Northants’ home record means they should expect a win tonight, even though they are longer odds at 11/10 as opposed to Yorkshire’s 8/11, but we will respectfully disagree with the operator on this one.

If you want to bet in-play, then keep in mind that the average first innings score in T20 matches at Northants’ ground this year has been 162 and 170 has only been passed twice, so 160 could read as par.

It is worth noting that rain is forecast for late afternoon in Northampton and is likely to clear by 7pm, after a start time of 630pm, so there is a chance that the start could be delayed and a small loss of overs could be incurred.

NB: All odds courtesy of Bet365

David Cook
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