Hampshire 126-4 (Ervine 34no) beat
Somerset 125-6 (Kieswetter 63no) by 6 wickets
Second FLt20 Semi-Final, Cardiff
Hampshire’s experienced middle-order proved just good enough to overhaul Somerset’s modest total of 125 for six in the second semi-final. Craig Kieswetter’s excellent unbeaten 63 was rendered a valiant face-saving innings rather than a heroic match-winning one by Simon Katich and Sean Ervine, who added an unbroken 54 for the fifth-wicket to see the Royals into the final.
Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas had won the toss early in the afternoon and chose to stick with the winning formula, inserting the opposition, despite a Cardiff pitch which had showed signs of getting lower and slower during the first semi-final. He led from the front and delivered his four overs straight through, taking two for 11. Richard Levi was the first to depart, caught by Katich at mid-on, while Marcus Trescothick followed up a straight six off Liam Dawson by dragging one from Mascarenhas’ second over onto his stumps.
James Hildreth was bowled round his legs by left-arm spinner Danny Briggs, who continued to impress, and found a little turn during his four over spell which yielded figures of one for 29. Jos Buttler and Craig Kieswetter attempted something of a recovery with a fourth-wicket stand of 24, but Buttler became the second man to drag on – this time off of Sean Ervine for 16. Ervine bowled accurately, just back of a length, and found consistent movement into the right-hander throughout his spell. It was this movement, coupled with a lack of bounce, which did for Peter Trego in the 13th over to leave Somerset on 58 for five and in danger of humiliation.
However, Kieswetter began to find his range and deposited Liam Dawson into the River Taff in the 14th over. He formed two useful partnerships, firstly with Lewis Gregory (nine), and latterly with Arul Suppiah (12 not out), to end on 63 not out, having brought up a hard-fought fifty from 51 balls.
This left Hampshire needing a little over a run a ball for a seemingly simple victory and they progressed to 33 without loss in the fourth over with a little help from some luck along the way. Michael Carberry, who has been battling an injury for much of this season, edged two balls, through the slip cordon – one either side of the wide slip – and looked out of sorts early on. However, he began to settle in alongside his captain Jimmy Adams, before Jos Buttler gave Somerset hope with a diving catch at mid-wicket which plucked an Adams on-drive out of thin air. James Vince was castled by the impressive Max Waller in the eighth over and suddenly Somerset were starting to believe.
This hope intensified further in the next over when Carberry was run out by Neil McKenzie, despite having covered about 30 yards while attempting a single. McKenzie and Katich saw off the next couple of overs, but, just as heads were beginning to drop, Lewis Gregory trapped McKenzie plumb in front for 10. McKenzie showed a reluctance to leave the crease, and may find himself in trouble with the umpires after the game, but replays vindicated the umpire’s decision.
Somerset suddenly found themselves back in with a realistic chance and, following a couple more tidy overs, Hampshire found that they needed 32 from the final four overs. Trescothick brought Alfonso Thomas – thus far expensive – back into the attack, and Katich and Ervine dealt with him severely. He was hit for a boundary by both batsmen and conceded 11 runs in total to effectively end the game. When Max Waller’s final over went for 11 as well, that more or less sealed Somerset’s fate, with the winning hit coming from the bat of Katich in Thomas’ next over. Katich ended on 32 not out from 30 balls, while man-of-the-match Ervine ended with 34 off 23.
Looking ahead to this evening’s final, something which has been evident from the two semi-finals is that pace is not the way to go. Alfonso Thomas, normally the most reliable bowler in this format and arguably Somerset’s quickest bowler, conceded 40 runs from his four overs, while Sussex’s quickest bowler, Amjad Khan, fared little better in the first semi-final. With this in mind, expect Yorkshire to consider bringing in Adil Rashid at the expense of Richard Pyrah.
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