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Powerful Sharks could prevail in battle royale

Derbyshire fancied to oblige

Sussex batsman Chris Nash has scored five fifties in the T20 Blast
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Sussex v Essex
Sky Sports Mix, 7pm Friday

The T20 Blast group stage reaches its climax with a battle royale to decide which four counties in each group will advance to next week's quarter-finals.

With four matches taking place on Thursday evening, the qualification picture remains a little blurry but Friday's televised fixture between Sussex and Essex is a crucial clash in the South section.

Sussex are slight outsiders for the showdown at Hove and the Sharks are worth backing to see off an Eagles side who were at home to Kent on Thursday night.

Essex, bottom of the pile before a much-needed nine-run win over Middlesex, are finishing with a rattle but they face a talented Sussex side determined to improve on their modest Twenty20 record.

The Sharks will be without batsman Ross Taylor, who has returned to New Zealand for family reasons, but their batting unit remains powerful with the in-form Chris Nash opening alongside Luke Wright and plenty of hitters further down the order.

Sussex’s bowling attack has a lovely balance to it and they had won three out of four before a defeat at Surrey last time out.

One over effectively decided that game – Aaron Finch struck four sixes and two fours off David Wiese in the 18th and Surrey went on to win by 17 runs – but the Sharks can bounce back from that setback.

Derbyshire may still have work to do in the North Group depending on their result at Leicestershire on Thursday but the Falcons can be trusted to claim two points at home to lowly Worcestershire.

Derbyshire were 40-1 rags in the ante-post Blast betting but their specialist Twenty20 coach John Wright has moulded them into an excellent unit.

The Falcons have done the double over a fancied Yorkshire side and lost narrowly to North Group leaders Nottinghamshire so the 4-6 about them inflicting a fifth straight defeat on Worcestershire is worth taking.

Recommendations
Sussex
1pt Evs general
Derbyshire
2pts 4-6 Sky Bet

Sussex’s bowling attack has a lovely balance to it and they had won three out of four before a defeat at Surrey last time out
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