Cosgrove: "Our fate is in our own hands"

In-form batsman Mark Cosgrove said that Leicestershire Foxes are in exactly the position they want to be in as they travel to face Notts Outlaws in the final NatWest T20 Blast group fixture of 2017 tonight (7pm start).

Last night's victory against Derbyshire Falcons made it three victories in a row for the flying Foxes and put them level with three teams on 15 points - the Falcons, Yorkshire Vikings and Birmingham Bears.

Although Leicestershire currently sit outside the top four, the Vikings cannot gain any more points as yesterday's record-breaking victory against Northants Steelbacks at Headingley was their last game.

It means a win at Trent Bridge tonight will put the Foxes into the knockout stages regardless of any other results.

Cosgrove, who has made three half-centuries in his last four innings, is anticipating a tough challenge at the North Division leaders.

But the Foxes have won five of their six away games in the competition and the left-hander feels that the team will be buoyed by the fact that they are in control of their own destiny.

"It is going to be a tough game against the side that's top of the table but it's all very exciting," said Cosgrove. 

"We know what we need to do, our fate is in our own hands, and that's all you can ask for going into the last game.

“We looked after ourselves well and recovered well after last night, and we now need another performance like we have been playing. 

"There have been some really big scores at Notts, and a Friday night at Trent Bridge is always great. They are a good side and have nailed down a top two position, so hopefully we can join them in the quarter-finals.

"Notts are probably happy that we beat Derbyshire as that helped to guarantee them a home game in the knockouts, but we know it's going to be tough as they are good players throughout the team.” 

There are several different qualification permutations in the North Division. Any three from six teams could yet join the Outlaws in the last eight, while a home quarter-final is also up for grabs.

But the Foxes do not have to worry about the scenarios and can simply focus on the fundamentals of a T20 performance - such as gaining the upper hand in the powerplay, bowling with discipline, and, like in Cosgrove’s case, hitting the ball cleanly. 

If the Foxes can do all of that, Cosgrove is confident that the Foxes will get the two points that guarantees the passage to the quarter-finals.

"We are in a good position even though we haven't played that perfect game yet, so we travel to Notts knowing that we are capable of winning,” said Cosgrove.

"I feel like I have been hitting the ball really well and have been in good touch bar the game against Yorkshire. It’s always nice to score runs when the team wins.

"The bowlers were fantastic for us last night, the first six overs in particular. Aadil [Ali] stepped up and did a great job for us. Parky [Callum Parkinson] has been doing really well in that role and Aadil has now done it, which allowed Parky to bowl in the middle overs.

"We restricted them to 30-odd in the powerplay and we scored over 60, so the bowlers and Ronc [Luke Ronchi] set the game up very well for us.”

Tonight’s game could feature four of the leading run-scorers in the competition as Riki Wessels (485) and Alex Hales (454) come up across Ronchi (399) and Cosgrove (364). Clint McKay, who took a then career-best 4 for 20 when the Foxes last won on this ground in 2015, is the only bowler to have taken 20 wickets in the tournament this year.

Should Leicestershire win at Notts, it would mean that the Foxes have beaten every side in the North Division once. It would complete a remarkable of results that would see four wins on the trot at the beginning and end of the tournament with no victories in six inbetween.

The Foxes have had a settled squad in NatWest T20 Blast and there are no changes from Derbyshire, so 14 players will make the short trip up the M1 this afternoon.

Foxes (from): McKay (capt), Aadil, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Delport, Eckersley, Griffiths, Hill, Klein, Parkinson, Pillans, Ronchi, Sayer, Wells.

Outlaws (from): Christian (capt), Taylor, Libby, Mullaney, Wessels, Hales, Gurney, Wood, Patel, Moores, Hutton, Ball, Sodhi, Root.