McKenzie ecstatic with finals day spot
Neil McKenzie was delighted to see his team home as Hampshire secured their spot at a third consecutive Friends Life t20 finals day last night.
The veteran South African batsman hit 14 from the game’s final four deliveries as the Royals surpassed Nottinghamshire’s total of 178, despite a brilliant all-round effort from England’s Samit Patel who hit 60 from 33 balls and took 3-26, to claim a thrilling four wicket victory.
Hampshire were in trouble at 78 for five when Patel removed the in-form Glenn Maxwell, but a 50-run partnership between Liam Dawson and McKenzie brought the visitors back into the game, and it was left to the latter to hit the winning runs in dramatic fashion.
“It was really good, playing in finals days is always a great motivation for the guys,” McKenzie told ecb.co.uk. “Coming to Notts and winning here after they have had the better of us in the 40-over competition was a great effort - it is nice to beat them and get the boys over.
“I thought Dawson played really well by playing good cricket shots and he has shown that he is a really good cricketer. All the guys that came in, even though we were losing wickets had belief. Dimi (Mascarenhas) came in there at the end, always smiling and positive and it is nice that it worked out on the day.”
The Outlaws set an imposing total on a what was a good Trent Bridge pitch, and McKenzie believes the belief inside the Royals’ dressing room kept them in the game.
“The guys got value for their shots,” he added. “As you could see Notts just kept coming at us, they have got some fantastic batters and I thought Patel and Adam Voges played really good knocks when the team was in trouble.
“But we had belief, we knew they are a quality side with a good bowling line-up and good plans so we needed a little bit of luck and belief.
“With Hampshire I have learnt that there are a few twists and turns, we don’t do things too easily. Even at the end there we needed to block the last ball and we would have still gone through but we don’t do things that easily.”
Hampshire skipper Mascarenhas was quick to praise McKenzie’s stunning knock after conceding the former Test star has endured a patchy campaign in the shortest form.
“What a great innings,” Mascarenhas told ecb.co.uk. “He hasn’t performed as well as he would have liked so far in T20s so it was good for him to come out and perform on the big stage.
“I am extremely happy with the team's performance; we knew that we were up against it as Notts are a very good team, especially on their home ground, and we knew chasing 178 was going to be a tough one and it took a very special innings from McKenzie to get us over the line.”
Hampshire will now face Somerset in a repeat of last year’s semi-final and Mascarenhas expects another tight affair.
“It is going to be another tough game as Somerset are a class unit and we are going to have to be on our game to beat them.
“But we are delighted to be in another finals day, especially after we were relegated last year. We are still in with a chance in all competitions so, who knows, we can win one, two or three trophies. Hopefully we can play some good cricket on the way.”