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Briggs set for unexpected Royals appearance

Left-arm spinner Danny Briggs has been made available for Hampshire Royals in this evening’s Friends Life t20 opener with Surrey at the Ageas Bowl.

Briggs has been temporarily released from England’s NatWest International T20 squad, having not made the XI in yesterday’s first game of two with New Zealand. He will rejoin the party ahead of tomorrow’s match.

Unlike Briggs, Surrey’s England duo Kevin Pietersen and Jade Dernbach are unavailable for today’s fixture, due to start at 7:10pm, between the FLt20 holders and the first Twenty20 champions 10 years ago. Gareth Batty will lead Surrey after recovering from a side injury.

Sohail Tanvir is in line to make his T20 debut for Hampshire. Tanvir has picked up seven wickets in his first two Yorkshire Bank 40 games for the Royals, against Derbyshire Falcons and Durham Dynamos, and the Pakistan seamer is set to continue to lead Hampshire's attack.

The 2010 and 2012 champions are expected to name a similar side to that which has garnered five victories from their seven YB40 games but seamer David Griffiths and all-rounder Hamza Riazuddin also come into contention with captain Dimitri Mascarenhas an injury doubt.

Surrey have Australia legend Ricky Ponting and former Hampshire man Glenn Maxwell in their ranks, but Tanvir is confident his side can make a positive start.

He said: "We have a balanced t20 side, and if we play to the best of our ability we have a great chance in this competition.

"I'm excited to start the t20 competition in English county cricket for the first time. Luckily, I'm playing with the team that won it last year and that gives me confidence.

"Surrey are also a well-balanced side with people like Ponting, but we should believe in ourselves as a team and put in 100% effort.

"I haven't had much chance to play against him (Ponting) but I've seen him play a lot. I know his game and I'll try to tackle him as much as I can.”

South Africa batsman Neil McKenzie will skipper the Royals team should Mascarenhas fail to prove his fitness.

Despite his injury concerns, Mascarenhas is in confident mood ahead of the start of the competition.

He said: "We've been pretty good over the last few years so it's important we get off to a good start. We are looking forward to three really good games before our next championship game.

"I know we won it last year, but I don't think we were the best side. So this year what I would like us to be is the best side throughout and really be consistent.

“We're going to have to play some serious cricket this year because all the teams are going to want to knock us off our perch."

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