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Key players: Kent vs Middlesex Bob Willis Trophy match

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Kent’s encounter with Middlesex at Canterbury in the Bob Willis Trophy promises to be an exciting face-off between two of the top teams from the South Group. Kent are currently second in the group after a 25-run win against Sussex in their last match, while Middlesex are a spot behind them in third, following a three-wicket loss against Hampshire. With both teams eager to remain towards the top of the group, Saturday’s clash is likely to be a tight contest, and here are a couple of players from each side who could prove to be the difference.

Jack Leaning

Jack Leaning will be itching to return to the middle after an unbeaten 220 against Sussex in Kent’s last game. Fresh off the back of his highest score in first-class cricket, the right-hand batsman will be eager to carry some of that momentum into the game against Middlesex. He hit 29 fours over the course of his knock and scored quickly at a strike rate of 71.42. Although Essex will be without Jordan Cox, who shared a record-breaking stand with Leaning in the last match but misses the Middlesex clash after breaching pre-match protocols, they will be happy with the reassuring presence of Leaning at the top of the order.

Harry Podmore

Harry Podmore enjoyed himself the last time he bowled at Canterbury and the right-arm medium bowler will be hoping to disrupt Middlesex’s batting line-up in a similar manner. He picked up four wickets in the first innings and three in the second during Kent’s last match and the 26-year-old, who ironically is from Middlesex, will be chomping at the bit to prove himself against his hometown county and former team. An economic bowler who loves to bowl with the new ball, Podmore is often his team’s choice when there’s a need to break a partnership and will be one of Kent’s biggest bowling threats.

Martin Andersson

Martin Andersson will be disappointed after falling for 92 in Middlesex’s last match against Hampshire, but the right-hand batsman will be high on belief ahead of the clash against Kent. Still relatively in the early stages of his first-class career, Andersson will be keen to convert one of his starts into a century, having failed to make the most of any of his three fifties at the first-class level so far.

However, his first innings knock in the last Test bore positive signs, with him looking fluent and settled in the middle. He hit 14 fours during his knock of 92 and scored at a strike rate of 69.17. Andersson, though, still hasn’t scored his first century at the first-class level and who knows, perhaps the upcoming match against Kent is when he changes that.  

Tim Murtagh

Like Podmore, Tim Murtagh also took seven wickets in his last outing in the Bob Willis Trophy. The bustling right-arm fast-medium swing bowler claimed four wickets in the first innings and three in the second against Hampshire. Having said that, he will be disappointed that Middlesex eventually lost the game despite his best efforts and he’ll want to make amends at the expense of Kent. With plenty of experience to draw from and a confident frame of mind going into the game, the veteran bowler can be expected to stick to the basics and make the opposition batsmen work hard for their runs, at the very least.

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Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ian Kington

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