Hosts have hitters to hurt Surrey in 50-over semi-final
Worcestershire set to put up a fight for final berth
One-Day Cup semi-final
Sky Sports 2, 11am Saturday
There is an air of inevitability about Kumar Sangakkara centuries for Surrey this summer and the Sri Lankan star obliged yet again with a superb 121 in Tuesday’s One-Day Cup playoff victory at Yorkshire.
The ever-modest Sangakkara was swift to praise the efforts of wicketkeeper Ben Foakes (86) and the Surrey bowling attack but bookmakers have no doubt about the man who holds the key to the semi-final clash against Worcestershire.
The classy Lankan run-machine is no bigger than 9-4 to top-score for 8-11 favourites Surrey and the left-hander is 5-1 to be named man of the match, as he was at Headingley this week.
The fixture at New Road is enhanced by the availability of England players Moeen Ali (Worcestershire) and Jason Roy (Surrey) and Roy, in particular, has a point to prove after being left out for the Champions Trophy semi-final defeat to Pakistan.
The opener needs a confidence boost but Surrey, runners-up in the One-Day Cup for the last two seasons, must not underestimate their hosts.
Worcestershire earned a home semi-final, avoiding the potential pitfall of the playoffs, after topping the North Group with just one defeat in eight games.
Their build-up to this match has been far from smooth, as batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore – their leading runscorer in the group stage – engineered a mid-season move to Yorkshire.
The departure of such a promising young player is a major disappointment for the New Road faithful and they have suffered two heavy County Championship defeats without Kohler-Cadmore.
However, the chance to reach a Lord’s final could inspire an improvement from the home side and their impressive young captain Joe Leach declared: “I want our guys to be vibrant and rise to the occasion.”
One of Worcestershire’s strengths is the power hitting throughout their side and the 6-4 about Leach’s men striking more sixes than Surrey is tempting.
Kohler-Cadmore’s absence is a blow – he cleared the ropes 11 times in eight innings – but the returning Moeen struck five sixes for England against South Africa at Headingley recently and there are some dangerous customers lurking in the middle-order.
John Hastings, back from Australia’s Champions Trophy campaign, hit ten maximums in just six North Group innings while Ross Whiteley, wicketkeeper Ben Cox, Ed Barnard and Leach himself can add to the tally.
Surrey’s batting tends to be more measured – they have hit only 17 sixes in the competition this season compared with Worcestershire’s 44 and Foakes’s tally of 395 runs includes 36 fours but just one maximum.
As the match betting suggests, 5-4 Worcestershire may have to chance their arm at some point and they are unlikely to go down without a fight.
Worcestershire to hit more sixes
2pts 6-4 bet365, Betfred