Andrew McDonald and Azhar Mahmood Top Two Players as the FLt20 heads into the Quarter Finals - 18/07/11
After six weeks and 16 group matches per county, the quarter-finalists of the Friends Life t20 (FLt20) have been decided. There are fascinating player match-ups across the four games, none more so than at Grace Rd where the top two players in the FLt20 FTI MVP rankings, Andrew McDonald and Azhar Mahmood, will do battle after the Leicestershire Foxes earned home advantage to entertain the Kent Spitfires. Both allrounders have enjoyed superb group stages of the FLt20, McDonald heading the rankings with 471 runs and 12 wickets, while Mahmood in second has 394 runs and 11 wickets. They have a remarkably similar boundary count having each hit 41 fours, Mahmood pipping the six count with 8 to McDonald's 7. Mahmood has the better strike rate with the bat (138 runs per 100 balls to McDonald's 127 runs per 100 balls) and the healthier economy rate with the ball (7.39 runs per over to 7.73) yet it is the Australian who has been more consistent. McDonald has scored 6 fifties and contributed 26% of Leicestershire's runs compared to Mahmood's 1 hundred and 2 fifties and 21% of the Spitfires' total. Their best returns with the ball are again remarkably similar: McDonald took 3-18 against Yorkshire, while Mahmood snared 3-14 against the Middlesex Panthers.
The good news for McDonald and Mahmood in a rankings context is that the next four players in the FLt20 FTI MVP have run their race for 2011. Tim Phillips, who currently occupies third spot, is the leading wicket-taker to date but the Essex Eagles bowed out with defeat to the Spitfires, a fate that also befell Tim Southee in fifth. Gareth Andrew in fourth was another who missed out on qualification in the last round of matches, while Glamorgan captain Alviro Petersen can take some comfort in the knowledge that he was able to maintain his levels of performance despite Glamorgan's inability to qualify from five rounds out.
Dimitri Mascerenhas is the next realistic pretender to the crown of FLt20 FTI MVP. The former Hampshire captain took 20 wickets in the group stages and was a key figure in the Royals topping the South group. He usually bowled his four overs straight through, three of which were always in the powerplay, yet he conceded his runs at just 6.30 runs per over. Hampshire entertain Durham at the Rose Bowl in the quarters giving Mascerenhas opportunity to improve upon his seventh place.
Last year's FPt20 FTI MVP, Darren Stevens is up to eighth having led the charge for a resurgent Kent Spitfires. The 2008 T20 winners had a poor start in this year's competition losing their first two matches yet stormed through to the quarters with wins against Surrey Lions and the Essex Eagles in their last two. Stevens scored 43 off 19 balls before taking 2-20 at the Kia Oval and then backed that performance up with 41 off 25 balls and 4-21 at Chelmsford. In the process Stevens became the leading run-scorer in domestic t20 history whilst he also leads the 2011 six-hitting league with 21 maximums in addition to his 25 fours. He has scored 357 runs at a strike rate of 148 runs per 100 balls with 10 double-figure contributions from 14 knocks. Don't bet against him defending his t20 FTI MVP crown.
In the overall FTI MVP, Marcus Trescothick is 45 points clear of Andrew. The Somerset captain led the FLt20 FTI MVP for most of June but after his last four knocks realised just 25 runs ( 1, 16, 0 and 8) he fell to ninth. Overall he has a whopping 1837 runs across all forms, 1210 of which have come in the LV County Championship where he is ranked first. In his last nine Championship innings Trescothick has scored three hundreds and five fifties to add to his double century scored earlier in the summer at the Rose Bowl. He has scored 366 runs more than his nearest challenger in the run stakes, Varun Chopra, who has 1471 across all forms.
Andrew has also been terrific across all forms with 807 runs and 53 wickets, while the twin pillars of Durham, Ian Blackwell and Dale Benkenstein are well-placed on the shoulder of the leaders in third and fourth respectively. Blackwell has 1008 runs and 29 wickets, Benkenstein 1416 runs and 10 wickets.
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