Can the Notts Outlaws defend their title?
The 2021 edition of the Vitality T20 Blast is all set to commence on 9th June, with a North Group match between Lancashire Lightning and Derbyshire Falcons. This will mark the nineteenth edition of the competition. Unlike the previous edition, which saw teams being divided into three groups, there are only two groups this time around – North Group and South Group. Both groups have nine teams each, and come the end of the league stage, the top four teams in each group will advance to the quarter-finals.
By looking at the odds, we can categorize teams into three groups – the hot favourites, the dark horses, and the ones who are not expected to challenge for the title.
Let us have a look in the first category:
Nottinghamshire – 6.50
Surrey – 7.00
Lancashire – 8.50
Somerset – 9.00
The teams who can be the dark horses in this competition:
Sussex – 10.00
Essex – 11.00
Kent – 11.00
Yorkshire – 11.00
The following teams are not necessarily the title contenders, but they can cause a few upsets:
Hampshire – 12.00
Birmingham – 12.00
Gloucestershire – 19.00
Nottinghamshire have the proficiency to make it two wins in a row
Notts Outlaws, the team representing the county of Nottinghamshire in this competition, had a flawless season in 2020. They lost only one game in the tournament and eventually won their second T20 Blast title quite convincingly.
Given their squad strength on paper, there is no reason to believe that they will fall from grace in this season. The odds of the Outlaws topping the North Group is 3.25, while the odds of them lifting the trophy for the second consecutive time is 6.50.
Surrey can reign supreme in South Group
While Nottinghamshire are likely to be the dominant force in the North Group, Surrey have a great chance of reigning supreme in the South Group. Last season’s finalist held the pole position of South Group in the previous edition as well.
The winners of the 2003 edition of the competition lost only a couple of matches in 2020, and unfortunately for them, one was in the final. The odds of Surrey finishing their league stage campaign at the top of South Group standings is 4.50.
Can Gloucestershire script a fairytale?
Gloucestershire are not particularly one of the heavyweights, given that they do not boast of many big names. But as we saw last year, they can be a force to reckon with when they work as a team.
The table-toppers of last season’s Central Group have never had a chance to get their hands on the trophy, and the odds of this edition being theirs is 19.00. If you are willing to play a punt, Gloucestershire can be a good option.
Players to watch out for
Ben Stokes: He will be seen in action for the first time since injuring his finger in the Indian Premier League. Hailed as one of the better all-rounders of his generation, Stokes will be plying his trade for Durham.
Alex Hales: This tournament will be crucial for English opener Alex Hales, as it could well be his ticket to the national team. Hales has scored runs aplenty in almost all of the competitions he has played recently. He will be seen playing for the defending champions, Notts Outlaws.