By Rob Barnett and Chris Devine
Surrey snuck a tense Friends Life t20 semi-final versus holders Hampshire Royals at Edgbaston to set up a showpiece with Northants Steelbacks this evening.
Hampshire were limited to a slightly below par 142 for nine but Surrey were unable to get far ahead of the required rate in their reply, which unfolded in dank conditions.
The winners of the inaugural competition in 2003 needed 18 from the final two overs and Zafar Ansari crucially hit Chris Wood for two straight boundaries to leave three required from the last set of six.
Ansari, who made 21 from 12 balls, top-edged Sohail Tanvir for four to seal a four-wicket victory with four deliveries to spare. Zander de Bruyn was at the other end with 41 not out at just better than a run a ball.
Surrey had quickly lost their opening batsmen and, although Vikram Solanki and Glenn Maxwell somewhat repaired the damage, both fell to spin to leave their side 71 for four at the halfway point of the reply.
With rain threatening, Surrey made sure to stay ahead of the required Duckworth/Lewis rate but slipped behind when Gary Wilson and Azhar Mahmood fell in the 17th over.
For Hampshire, who won this competition in 2010 as well as last year, only Sean Ervine’s 47 from 32 balls constituted a meaningful batting contribution at a ground where 144 was FLt20 par this season before today.
Jon Lewis capitalised on stand-in captain Solanki’s decision to field first by cheaply removing dangerman Michael Carberry. Jade Dernbach followed up with two wickets in his first over to leave the Royals three down.
De Bruyn plus spinners Ansari and Maxwell each chipped in with a mid-innings breakthrough before Azhar had Ervine caught in the deep. Hampshire’s tail then fell away as Azhar returned remarkable figures of 4-1-9-2.
Solanki said: “We’re very pleased to get over the line. The bowlers were outstanding as they’ve always been.
“We put ourselves under a little bit of pressure when the bat, but it doesn’t matter how you do it, particular in situations like this.”
Asked about Ansari’s nerveless innings, Solanki added of the Cambridge University graduate: “He’s an intelligent lad and he had obviously worked it all out. He decided that the second-last over was going to be the one he targeted and he did so very well.”
Deflated Hampshire skipper Dimitri Mascarenhas, who retires from county cricket at the end of this summer and has therefore played his last FLt20 game, added: “We saw in the first game 160-odd was about par. We just didn’t get enough runs; it’s as simple as that.”
5:23pm - END OF MATCH - SURREY 145/6 AND WIN BY FOUR WICKETS! - De Bruyn and Ansari finish unbeaten on 41 and 21 respectively as Surrey make it home with four balls to spare. They will face Northants Steelbacks tonight, providing the rain, which has recently returned, does not intensify. The final is scheduled to start at 6:45pm.
5:20pm - Surrey are in the driving seat now, courtesy of two glorious straight hits from Zafar Ansari off Wood that went for six and four.
5:16pm - Two more wides come in Tanvir’s latest over; that’s four from him in the innings now. Otherwise, it’s a good over for Hampshire, whose opponents now require 18 from 12. De Bruyn, 38 not out, will be on strike for the start of the penultimate over.
5:10pm - A top-edged pull from de Bruyn, who is certainly central to Surrey’s hopes now, runs away for four. With three overs remaining, 24 are needed.
5:07pm - WICKET! Azhar run out 0; Surrey 112/6 - Two in two for Hampshire. Confusion between the wickets sees Azhar run out without facing! He was sent back after setting off for a second.
5:05pm - WICKET! Wilson c McKenzie b Wood 15; Surrey 111/5 - De Bruyn skilfully pulls a short ball from Dawson behind square for his second four. Wood then returns and, after Wilson sends one into orbit, McKenzie takes a stunning catch running back from point. Azhar Mahmood, Surrey's star with the ball, comes in.
5pm - The equation for Surrey is now 40 from 30 balls, Briggs having bowled out. De Bruyn and Wilson have accumulated steadily and sensibly. It looks as though our latest shower has passed.
4:55pm - Gary Wilson greets the return of Tanvir with a swipe over midwicket for four but only one run comes from the remainder of the over. Dawson boosts the Surrey cause with five wides down the leg side.
4:50pm - Still no heavy downpour, so play goes on. After 12 overs, Surrey are 84 for four, two ahead of the D/L par.
4:46pm - Briggs is convinced he has de Bruyn lbw but the umpire disagrees. Here comes the rain again and a dreadful misfield from Wood leads to a four that could prove crucial…
4:43pm - WICKET! Maxwell c Ervine b Dawson 26; Surrey 71/4 - This is not very clever from Maxwell. With the required run-rate well under control, he attempts to whack Liam Dawson into the city centre and succeeds only in picking out long-off.
4:41pm - In what could yet be his final t20 appearance for Hampshire (should they lose this game), Mascarenhas completes his allocation with 1-24. Surrey are 66 for three after nine overs and have Zander de Bruyn new to the crease. This could go either way.
4:34pm - Solanki lbw Briggs 19; Surrey 53/3 - Solanki picks up successive fours off Danny Briggs with shots of contrasting authority. A delightful dab through backward point is followed by an inside edge that beats Mascarenhas’ despairing chase and dive. Briggs gains revenge by trapping the veteran in front with a quicker delivery. Hampshire needed that.
4:31pm - Solanki pulls and cuts for four in a loose over from Chris Wood, but only just clears mid-off soon after when facing Mascarenhas. A thick inside-edge from Maxwell brings another boundary and the Australia all-rounder then clears the infield at point. Surrey are just ahead of the Duckworth/Lewis par score.
4:23pm - Glenn Maxwell is alongside Vikram Solanki now and happily the rain looks to have stopped. Maxwell survives an lbw appeal from Mascarenhas, who he then whips behind square-leg for four. Surrey end the fourth over on 24 for two.
4:17pm - WICKET! Davies c Mascarenhas b Wood 9; Surrey 17/2 - This is not the start Surrey had in mind. Mascarenhas is the catcher on this occasion when Steven Davies mistimes a pull to mid-on.
4:12pm - WICKET! Roy c Dawson b Mascarenhas 5; Surrey 9/1 - Roy pulls a half-tracker from Dimitri Mascarenhas straight down the throat of deep midwicket.
4:10pm - Tanvir sends down a brace of leg-side wides, not exactly what Hampshire need in this situation. Roy then opens up the off side to collect the first four of the innings. Light drizzle has started to fall unfortunately.
4:05pm - The showers have stayed away for the time being. Jason Roy is on strike to Sohail Tanvir for the start of the Surrey run-chase.
— Alex Wakely (@AlexWakely1) August 17, 2013
3:55pm - END OF INNINGS; Hants 142/9 - Sohail Tanvir pulls through backward square-leg for four during the final set of six. Hampshire look to be short of par but the situation could yet be complicated as it is now gloomier than ever. Will rain interrupt the Surrey reply?
3:50pm - Azhar finishes with outstanding figures of 2-9 from four overs, despite conceding a four to Danny Briggs off his final ball.
3:47pm - WICKETS! Wood run out 12, Mascarenhas c Maxwell b Azhar; Hants 130/9 - Oh dear! Wood is run out as Mascarenhas makes a desperate bid to steal a leg-bye and get back on strike. The departing batsman throws his bat skywards in frustration and there is further woe for Hampshire when Dimi pops one up to long-on next ball.
3:42pm - There was much laughter in the crowd prior to Ervine’s exit as a Luis Suarez lookalike, dressed in Liverpool kit, attracted attention. Dernbach comes back for the 18th over and concedes four and six to Chris Wood.
3:39pm - WICKET! Ervine c Ansari b Azhar 47; Hants 115/7 - Mascarenhas lifts a wide delivery from de Bruyn over short third man for his first four. After bowling two overs for one at the start of the innings, Azhar returns and has Ervine caught at deep square-leg!
3:30pm - So much depends on Ervine now. He has captain Dimitri Mascarenhas with him and Hampshire are 104 for six with five overs remaining.
3:24pm - WICKET! Wheater lbw Maxwell 2; Hants 96/6 - Six more to Ervine! This time he clobbers Maxwell over deep midwicket. Yet again, though, Surrey break through later in the over. Adam Wheater misses a reverse-sweep to be lbw.
3:21pm - WICKET! Dawson c Solanki b Ansari 8; Hants 85/5 - Surrey’s overseas star Glenn Maxwell increases the pressure on the Royals with an opening over that costs just two. Realising his side need to get a shift on, Ervine collects successive sixes off Ansari over wide long-off and midwicket. However, the bowler hits back by having Liam Dawson held at extra-cover.
3:15pm - Hampshire reach the halfway point of the innings on 63 for four. A brief delay follows when a gust of wind blows several boundary markers onto the field, after which Ansari completes another economical over.
3:07pm - WICKET! Adams b de Bruyn 19; Hants 58/4 - Surrey strike again as de Bruyn goes full and straight to bowl Adams, who was playing across the line.
3:06pm - A cover-driven four off Zander de Bruyn takes Ervine to double figures and Hampshire past 50. Spin is introduced in the form of Zafar Ansari; the youngster gives up five in his first over.
3pm - Hampshire have a job on their hands here. Sean Ervine gets off the mark with a pulled four, but a total of 45 for three after seven overs is far from ideal.
Looks like Azhar Mahmood has borrowed Shaun Tait's green boots #FLt20
— England Cricket (@ECB_cricket) August 17, 2013
2:52pm - WICKET! McKenzie lbw Dernbach 5; Hants 38/3 - Neil McKenzie eases Dernbach between mid-off and cover for four, but falls lbw next ball. It’s another Dernbach inswinger that does the damage, although replays suggest the batsman was unlucky.
2:48pm - WICKET! Vince b Dernbach 13; Hants 32/2 - And that's more like it for Surrey! Jade Dernbach's first delivery cleans up Vince.
2:46pm - That’s more like it from a Hampshire point of view. Adams gets off the mark with a four through extra-cover and 19 runs come from Tremlett’s next over as both batsmen clear the ropes. Vince’s six came courtesy of a gorgeous straight drive, while Adams cleared backward square-leg.
Brilliant performance.....can't wait for the final! Who are we going to get?! #writteninthestars
— Matthew Spriegel (@Spriegs) August 17, 2013
2:38pm - WICKET! Carberry c Roy b Lewis 6; Hants 8/1 - After three more dot-balls from Chris Tremlett, James Vince finally gets Hampshire off the mark. Carberry pierces the off-side field next ball but is then caught at cover off Jon Lewis' second delivery. That's a huge breakthrough for Surrey!
2:33pm - The in-form Michael Carberry survives an early appeal for caught behind, although bowler Azhar Mahmood was hardly interested. It’s still an excellent start for Surrey as the wily Azhar completes a maiden, only the fifth in finals day history.
2:27pm - For the time being at least, it remains dry at Edgbaston. Let's hope it stays dry as this promises to be a belter. Can defending champions Hampshire reach the final for the third time in four years?
2:21pm - Surrey are without suspended skipper Gareth Batty. Here are the two teams in full:
Hampshire: James Vince, Michael Carberry, Jimmy Adams, Neil McKenzie, Sean Ervine, Liam Dawson, Adam Wheater, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Chris Wood, Sohail Tanvir, Danny Briggs.
Surrey: Jason Roy, Steven Davies, Vikram Solanki, Azhar Mahmood, Zander de Bruyn, Gary Wilson, Glenn Maxwell, Zafar Ansari, Jon Lewis, Chris Tremlett, Jade Dernbach.
YES....YES....YES...!!!!!! MASCOT RACE WINNER 2013... Your county expected ....and you delivered..!!
— Sussex CCC (@SussexCCC) August 17, 2013
2:11pm - And the winner of the mascot race is Sid the Shark from Sussex, who fought off a stunning sprint finish from Derbyshire's mascot Freddie the Falcon.
2:08pm - Welcome to our second live blog on Friends Life t20 finals day. Surrey and Hampshire Royals are preparing to do battle for the right to face Northants Steelbacks tonight. Surrey have elected to field upon winning the toss, but first we have the mascot race...