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2023 T20 Blast
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Vitality Blast Finals Day preview: Edgbaston set for thrilling finale

Now firmly established as the highlight of the domestic cricketing calendar, T20 Blast Finals Day takes place at Edgbaston on Saturday and features four southern counties.

The Hampshire Hawks' defence of the title they won in thrilling fashion in Birmingham last year continues when they take on surprise packages the Essex Eagles in the first semi-final.

Then, after all the fun of the annual mascot race, Surrey set about taking down a Somerset team that dominated the South Group - winning 12 of 14 games before edging past the Notts Outlaws in a tense quarter-final.

The ultimate winner will be decided under the floodlights and could go down to the wire like last year's showpiece, which Hampshire won by one run.

WhatT20 Blast Finals Day
WhereEdgbaston, Birmingham
WhenSaturday 15th July
How to watchSky Sports Cricket
OddsSurrey 12/5, Somerset 12/5, Hampshire 13/5, Essex 7/2

Narine's absence could derail Surrey

Surrey's star-studded team are 12/5 to be the last ones standing from the final four, but their past record in the tournament is far from convincing.

The Brown Caps reached only one of the last eight Finals Day line-ups and have not lifted the trophy since the success in the competition's inaugural season 20 years ago.

But, led by West Indian spin superstar Sunil Narine and England all-rounder Will Jacks they won eight games in the South Group to finish third and set-up a tough last-eight clash with 2022 runners-up Lancashire at Old Trafford.

Opener Laurie Evans hit a sparkling 70 off 41 balls to set the Lightning a tough target of 188 for victory before tidy bowling spells from captain Chris Jordan and Narine, who elicited the key wicket of big-hitting Lancastrian Liam Livingstone, sealed their semi-final berth.

However, Surrey have confirmed Narine will be unavailable for Finals Day due to his commitments in Major League Cricket in the United States.

He had initially been expected to play for LA Knight Riders against Texas Super Kings in Texas on Thursday evening before flying back across the Atlantic to feature for Surrey in Birmingham, but that will no longer happen.

Somerset top order eye maximum damage

Finals Day bridesmaids four times since they last won it in 2005, 12/5 Somerset should be full of belief this year after a superb white-ball campaign.

Right-arm medium-fast bowler Ben Green is the tournament's leading wicket-taker with 27 and forms part of an experienced attack that also includes New Zealand duo Matt Henry and Ish Sodhi.

Skipper Lewis Gregory shone with both bat and ball in their quarter-final win over the Outlaws, nullifying Notts' momentum with a couple of key wickets and blasting five sixes in his match-clinching knock of 57 off 34 balls.

The Somerset middle order can usually rely on a stable platform from a top three that includes big-hitters like Will Smeed and Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who combined for a total of 57 maximums in the group stage, and Tom Banton, who struck five maximums when they beat Surrey at the Oval in June.

Nerveless holders know what it takes

Hampshire became the joint-most successful team in T20 Blast history when they won their third title in 2022.

The consistent Hawks have made it to 11 of the last 13 Finals Days and pack plenty of experience for the big occasion.

Led by former England star James Vince, whose 657 runs make him the competition's most prolific batter this year, Hampshire won nine and lost five of their group games to finish second in the South.

Australian Nathan Ellis, who held his nerve in the dramatic final over last year, remains an important part of their attack alongside miserly South African John Turner and experienced journeyman Benny Howell.

One thing seems for sure – if 13/5 chances Hampshire reach the final it will be a close affair as they have been involved in some of the tightest finishes in this competition's history.

Harmer is the key for streaky underdogs

Essex's path to Finals Day was extraordinary to say the least as the Eagles were left needing to beat Surrey in their final group game and hope from a favour from Somerset to scrape through.

That they did when Feroze Khushi hit the last ball of the match for six and Kent could not complete their run chase at Taunton.

Anthony McGrath's men, who have not made it through to the final four since their victorious 2015 appearance at Edgbaston, are a streaky team that followed five straight wins with four successive defeats in the group stage.

But they have some momentum after that win at the Oval and the quarter-final win over the Birmingham Bears, which they clinched by two wickets with one ball to spare.

Captain Simon Harmer bowled a tight spell on that last visit to Edgbaston and the spinner is likely to be crucial to any chance the 7/2 Eagles have of going all the way this weekend.

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