Lancashire Lightning will finish top of the NatWest T20 Blast North Group with victory over Durham Jets at Emirates Old Trafford tomorrow night.
The Lightning have already sealed a home quarter-final for the first time in five years - when they lost in an idoor bowl-out to Somerset - and are strong favourites to overcome a Jets side that cannot make the last eight.
Lancashire will, however, be without expert death bowler Junaid Khan after he played his final game of the competition in last Friday’s 35-run win over Derbyshire Falcons.
Junaid has been a key part of the Lightning’s stellar campaign – they lost just once after his slightly delayed arrival – as the Pakistan international took 19 wickets at an average of 14.
Junaid has returned to Pakistan to prepare for the upcoming series against Sri Lanka and will not be back for the knockout stages.
The Lightning batsmen have shown they can ease the burden on their bowlers after pummelling the two highest scores in this year’s competition this month.
Half-centuries from Ashwell Prince and Karl Brown helped them rack up 225 for seven against the Falcons last time out – which was just four runs shy of the total they registered on Andrew Flintoff’s return against Worcestershire Rapids at New Road.
The Lightning have shared the scoring load with five batsmen having made more than 200 runs, although Jos Buttler will miss out after his call-up to England’s squad for the third Investec Test against India.
By comparison the Jets have struggled for runs this season with their top-scorer Callum MacLeod – who has hit 289 runs at 41.28 – the 32nd highest runscorer in the tournament.
Durham were able to welcome Graham Onions back in their previous match and he obliged with 3-15 in a three-wicket defeat to Leicestershire Foxes, which ultimately ended their bid to get out of the group.
In addition to the absences of Junaid and Buttler, Lancashire will also be without in-form opener Tom Smith while Flintoff is also not in their 13-man squad.
Wicketkeeper Alex Davies and Kabir Ali will likely return while Usman Khawaja, Kyle Jarvis and Kyle Hogg could make their first appearances in the competition this season.