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This year's best meet perennial powerhouse

The nature of sport dictates that at some stage every superpower will meet an ambitious pretender.

Cricket is no different and NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day will feature such an occurrence when perennial challengers Hampshire tackle Lancashire Lightning. 

The Red Rose were the outstanding side in the competition this year, winning 10 of their 14 fixtures and losing just two.

Hampshire, meanwhile, booked a fifth successive Finals Day berth by overcoming Notts Outlaws in the quarter-finals, skipper James Vince leading he way with a stunning 93 not out.

That they reached the last eight was thanks to a typically impressive group campaign, with nine wins and five defeats sealing their progression.

Leading the way for Hampshire is their outstanding, and now experienced, triumvirate of Michael Carberry, Vince and Jimmy Adams.

They have struck a collective 1,206 runs in the competition thus far, Carberry leading the way with 414.

Hampshire also possess one of the country's leading short-form bowlers in Danny Briggs, who has again impressed this year.

The left-arm spinner thus far has claimed 21 scalps in 14 games at an average below 20.

He and his colleagues were not able to stave off defeat as the competition began, however, as Will Owen helped Glamorgan to a 10-run success.

But Hampshire responded like champions as the form of Vince helped seal consecutive victories over Sussex Sharks, Middlesex Panthers, Essex Eagles and Kent Spitfires.

Peter Trego was the star man as Somerset ended their streak via a dramatic one-run win, yet Hampshire bounced back by overcoming Gloucestershire and Glamorgan.

Three defeats in their next four, to Surrey, Somerset and Middlesex, left Hampshire's last-eight aspirations in the balance - only for their spirit to shine through in the last two games.

Carberry starred in the penultimate encounter, his 87 backed up by 52 from Adams to secure a total good enough to overcome Luke Wright's sublime 116 not out and earn a six-run success.

Hampshire showed their ability to overhaul a target next time out, 57 from Carberry and Matt Coles' 54 not out seeing off Essex.

Lancashire, meanwhile, progressed on the back of one of the most impressive group campaigns in recent memory.

Having begun with a 33-run defeat against Notts Outlaws, the Lightning got back on track as 70s from Tom Smith and Paul Horton helped secure a 12-run win over Worcestershire Rapids.

That sparked a four-game winning streak as left-arm seamer Junaid Khan, in particular, impressed.

A slip-up occurred against bitter rivals Yorkshire Vikings, Aaron Finch's swashbuckling 88 sealing a five-wicket triumph.

But Lancashire would not taste defeat again, their run to the knockout phases featuring a string of stunning performances and three appearances from returning hero Andrew Flintoff.

The former England star subsequently suffered a calf injury, a problem which could well rule him out of the Finals Day festivities.

They will be confident of overcoming his absence, though, having done so in the last eight.

Such a result did not appear likely when Lancashire, despite Usman Khawaja's 67, managed just 137 for eight.

Yet heroics from talk-of-the-tournament Jordan Clark ensured Glamorgan came up one run short, the young all-rounder claiming 4-22 from four outstanding overs.

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