The Hundred makes its return this week and the wildly popular cricket competition looks set to dazzle and entertain again. With a huge array of international stars on show this year as well as England’s best, it promises to be a real cracker.

The first round of fixtures sees some of the best teams go head-to-head and here’s our preview of them.

Southern Brave v Welsh Fire

The inaugural winners Southern Brave kick off the second edition of The Hundred with an intriguing tie against Welsh Fire. The 2021 champions return with a similar side, though many might argue it’s stronger this time with the likes of Marcus Stoinis in there, and they start as tournament favourites at 3/1.

Southern Brave were impressive last season and they have a side packed with talent. Marshalled by James Vince, who has, of course, just won the T20 Blast with Hampshire, they seem to have all bases covered and look worthy market leaders at 4/6.

In contrast, opponents Welsh Fire struggled last season winning just three of their eight group matches.

They have a strong squad led by the in-form Jonny Bairstow and with Ollie Pope, Tom Banton, Adam Zampa and David Miller just some of the other stars in their ranks, they have the personnel to be competitive.

Their bowling was poor last term and their net run rate of -0.827 was the lowest in the competition so they’ll need to improve that in order to go better than in 2021. The Fire head into this as the 6/5 outsiders.

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Oval Invincibles v London Spirit

Oval Invincibles were certainly not invincible in the last edition of The Hundred but did play an impressive tournament, winning four and losing three matches.

The Invincibles were beaten by the eventual victors Southern Brave, in the last match of their campaign by six wickets and will look to improve on their defence against the better bowling sides.

Their squad is made up of plenty of stars, including Sam Curran, Sam Billings, Jason Roy and Sunil Narine, and if they manage to hit form, they can certainly do some damage with Tom Moody in charge.

They are 4/6 favourites to win this fixture and beat London Spirit for a second time in a row.

Opposition London Spirit who had a poor first tournament, finishing bottom of the pile with just three points, are the underdogs at 6/5 and will aim to exact revenge after last year’s defeat.

Winning just one fixture in last year’s edition, captain Eoin Morgan and manager Trevor Bayliss will have to reassess their strategies for 2022’s season if they plan to compete.

They have recruited well with Kieron Pollard, Glenn Maxwell and Hampshire’s T20 Blast Australian winning-duo of Nathan Ellis and Ben McDermott all in the squad and they should go better than last year.

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