The Manchester Originals and the Northern Superchargers meet at Old Trafford on Friday, with both sides looking to improve on disappointing first seasons in The Hundred.
The Originals won just two of their eight group games to finish down in sixth place in the standings, while the Superchargers ended up just one win and one place better off than their cross-Pennine rivals.
|What:||Manchester Originals v Northern Superchargers, The Hundred|
|Where:||Old Trafford, Manchester|
|When:||18:30, Friday 5th August 2022|
|How to watch:||Sky Sports Cricket|
|Odds:||Manchester Originals 8/11, Northern Superchargers 11/10|
The men from Manchester can be a little more positive this time around as they hope to have England white-ball skipper Jos Buttler available for far more of the competition than the two games he played last summer.
The same cannot be said of the Superchargers, who had hoped to have England Test captain Ben Stokes as their leader, only for the all-rounder to opt to miss the tournament to take some much-needed rest.
However, with Stokes having only played twice in the competition last summer, his absence makes little difference in weighing up the situation as compared to the 2021 season.
Last summer's meeting of these two sides saw wicketkeeper-batter John Simpson star for the hosts at Headingley, as he blasted 71 from just 28 balls to lead the Superchargers to a dominant 69-run victory.
The Originals can be backed at 8/11 to exact revenge on their own patch, with the Superchargers priced at 11/10.
And it is difficult to read too much into the home advantage that Buttler and co will be hoping to utilise on Friday evening.
Two of the four Originals home games last summer were lost to the weather, with the other two split between one win and one loss - a narrow six-run reverse at the hands of the London Spirit.
Having struggled to put runs on the board in the first Hundred campaign, the Originals will not only hope to see Buttler flourish after a mixed summer on the international stage, but also hope a number of new boys will increase their productivity.
More will be expected of England white-ball right-hander Phil Salt, whose highest score in seven innings last summer was a mere 30.
He and Buttler now have the experienced Laurie Evans to help them out and he is 10/3 to be top team batter on Friday, while veteran Wayne Madsen (6/1) also has the pedigree needed to make a difference.
On the bowling front there is also grounds for optimism, with Richard Gleeson on board after excelling in the T20 Blast and earning an international call-up as a result.
The veteran seamer is 10/3 to be top team bowler on Friday, while the arrival of Sri Lanka's Wanindu Hasaranga means that there is the intriguing possibility of a leg-spin double act alongside Matt Parkinson.
Hasaranga has an outstanding record of 62 wickets at 14.14 in 38 T20I appearances and that sort of form could help turn the Originals into a much stronger outfit.
While the Originals certainly look stronger than they did last summer, the same cannot be said for the Superchargers, whose batting options in particular look very thin.
Yorkshire youngster Harry Brook excelled on home turf last season as he made 189 runs at a strike-rate of 153.65 last summer, but he was given very little support, apart from the efforts of Simpson.
This time around South African veteran Faf du Plessis will undoubtedly be a positive addition, but the exits of Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Dane Vilas look to have left the Leeds-based outfit short on batting strength.
With the ball, yet another leg-spinner, Adil Rashid, was joint leading wicket-taker in the competition last summer with 12 and the England ace - 13/5 to be top team bowler on Friday - will need to at least repeat that feat if the Superchargers are to mount a serious challenge.
There is one unknown quality in the Superchargers ranks, however, with young batter Michael Pepper very much one of the rising stars of the white-ball game.
The 24-year-old - 9/2 to be top team batter on Friday - impressed in the recent T20 Blast in making 439 for Essex at an exciting strike-rate of 163.19.
With home advantage and a stronger batting line-up at their disposal, there is every reason to think that the Originals will come out on top on Friday evening, with the Superchargers looking at least a couple of players short, especially in their batting options.
However, longer-term, neither side appear to be fancied to go all the way, with the Originals 13/2 to claim The Hundred title and the Superchargers priced at 8/1.