Dimi delighted after shouldering responsibility
Dimitri Mascarenhas had plenty to smile about after defying a torn shoulder muscle to lead Hampshire to Friends Life t20 glory at the SWALEC Stadium.
Unavailable due to an Achilles injury when Hampshire lifted the trophy on home soil two years ago, Mascarenhas revealed he had to “grin and bear it” today in victories over Somerset and Yorkshire.
The veteran all-rounder, Hampshire’s captain in the shortest form, delivered an admirable display, returning figures of 4-31 from eight overs across both matches.
Yet while the last-four triumph over Somerset was completed with relative comfort, the Royals were pushed to the wire in the final as David Miller threatened to propel Yorkshire to a target of 151 under the floodlights.
After seeing his side prevail, a jubilant Mascarenhas said: “We’ve won two in three years now and it’s a great feeling. For me it’s the best one (finals day) by a mile ... and one I’ll remember for a very long time.
“I’ve torn my lat tendon; I tore it two weeks ago and tore it again last week when I tried to play. I had a scan and it’s torn so I just had to try and grin and bear it through today.
“It was a huge stress to be honest - we were trying to work out team selection if I didn’t play and all that sort of stuff, but I was lucky enough to get through.
“I actually felt better in the final. Maybe it was the adrenaline that took me through, but it felt a lot sorer in the semi-final.”
Miller’s unbeaten 72, which came off just 48 balls and contained five huge maximums, kept Yorkshire hopes alive for much longer than may have been expected when they slipped to 47 for four inside nine overs.
“There’s not much you can really do,” said Mascarenhas of the South African’s brutal onslaught. “I didn’t think it was bad bowling; it was just exceptional hitting.
“Twenty20 is one of those games when it’s never over until it’s over. When you have a guy who is banging sixes - one or two every over - it’s hard to contain that. He wasn’t hitting small sixes either; they were going out of the ground.
“It was pretty concerning, but, in the end, we bowled a couple of good overs and that’s all we needed. We knew they were well behind the rate.”
After England spinner Danny Briggs had conceded just seven in the penultimate over of the match, leaving 14 required, Chris Wood held his nerve to secure victory for Hampshire.
The left-arm seamer denied Miller the opportunity to add to his boundary count and dismissed Tim Bresnan, Richard Pyrah and Azeem Rafiq.
“I’ve been training all winter and all summer to bowl those last overs in games, so I just backed my ability at the end and I knew if I landed the perfect yorker they wouldn’t be able to hit it out of the park,” explained Wood. “I just backed myself 100% and went for it.”
Commenting on the performance of Briggs and Wood, Mascarenhas added: “They’ve been good all year and they were two crucial overs, especially with the way he (Miller) was hitting them.
“It’s good for them to be in that situation at a very young age because they can only learn and get better from these sort of games.”
Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale accentuated the positives despite his side’s defeat, even if his expression showed understandable disappointment.
"It would have been nice for us to spray that champagne around,” he said. “I'm not going to lie.
“But when we reflect on it, we've achieved something as a group and as a club. I'd like to think we've done the club proud.”
Gale also took time to pay tribute to Miller’s tour de force.
“If it wasn’t for David, we would have been nowhere; we could have been bowled out for 80,” he admitted.
“David played out of his skin. Going into the last over, I was backing us. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way, but fair play to David for getting us in a position to win that game because we were dead and buried.”
Miller unsurprisingly ranks tonight’s innings as the best of his career.
He said: “It would probably be my number-one knock. I really enjoyed it but it was bitterly disappointing because we got in a position to win it.”