McKenzie holds nerve to send Hants through
Neil McKenzie’s unbeaten 79 eclipsed a brilliant all-round display by Samit Patel and sent Hampshire to Friends Life t20 finals day for the third year running.
England all-rounder Patel hit 60 from 33 balls and took 3-26 but still ended up on a losing Nottinghamshire side as the visitors won by four wickets from the final ball of a pulsating quarter-final.
Nottinghamshire’s 178 for seven set an imposing total, but on a good pitch McKenzie received able support from Simon Katich, Liam Dawson and Dimitri Mascarenhas, before striking 14 from the last four deliveries of the match to guide the 2010 winners through.
Earlier, the Notts innings got off to the worst possible start when Alex Hales offered a tame chip to James Vince at cover in Dawson’s first over to go for a golden duck.
Riki Wessels then set about clubbing the usually economical Mascarenhas for 18 off his first four balls, but skied a slice to Danny Briggs at backward point to leave the Outlaws 25 for two at the end of the second over.
James Taylor scored 189 runs in the two Clydesdale Bank 40 games between these two sides this season as Notts won home and away, but made just 10 this time before picking out Dawson at point in Glenn Maxwell’s first over.
Former Hampshire batsman Michael Lumb was joined by another ex-Royal in Australian Adam Voges and they both appeared in good touch until Lumb, who had fired five fours and launched Chris Wood over mid-on for six, slapped Mascarenhas to Vince at point for 39 with the score on 80.
Voges and Patel added 62 for the fifth wicket – the latter showing the most aggression with a series of brutal cuts and cover drives through the off-side.
Voges eventually fell to Briggs for 33, hauling the England spinner to long-off, before Patel celebrated his half-century by powering a Maxwell full toss for six.
The England all-rounder was caught at point in the final over – bowled by Australian all-rounder Maxwell – and Steven Mullaney was bowled by the last ball of the innings having hit a glorious straight-drive down the ground off his first delivery.
Nottinghamshire’s total appeared no better than par on a glorious Trent Bridge track, and Hampshire initially made light work of staying ahead of the required run-rate.
Jimmy Adams and Vince both got off the mark with boundaries in the first over, but departed for five and 11 respectively; Adams was caught behind off Harry Gurney and his opening partner pulled Andy Carter straight to mid-on.
Katich also got off the mark with a boundary, and he and McKenzie appeared to have things under control.
However, the Australian, having twice dispatched Gurney for one-bounce fours over midwicket, then departed to Mullaney for 25.
Patel then bowled a brilliant 10th over that yielded two runs and two wickets. Hales caught Sean Ervine at deep square-leg and Chris Read stumped Maxwell for one after he had charged down the track.
Hampshire were 78 for five as a result and, as the required run-rate approached 11-an-over, McKenzie and Dawson set about rebuilding, the latter sweeping and reverse-sweeping aggressively while his partner accumulated ones and twos.
They shared a partnership of 50 before that man Patel immediately struck again, Dawson playing one sweep too many and picking out Wessels on the deep square-leg boundary.
Skipper Mascarenhas drove his first ball through the covers for four and McKenzie played an incredible sweep off Gurney for six to bring up his half-century.
Former England all-rounder Mascarenhas then twice cut Ball for boundaries in the 18th over to leave 22 needed from the last 12 deliveries.
Only 10 runs came from Gurney’s penultimate over, despite McKenzie launching the third ball over midwicket for six, and Mascarenhas missed out on a full toss from the first ball of the final over – bowled by Carter.
A bye came from the second ball, although McKenzie appeared to injure his hamstring scampering through, requiring Vince to return as a runner.
McKenzie had no trouble getting down on one knee to sweep the next ball over fine-leg for four, and he drilled the next through the covers for another boundary.
Two came from the fifth ball, with the bails removed at both ends as the runner and some haphazard fielding caused chaos, before McKenzie kept his head to drive the final delivery through the covers to seal a remarkable win.