Hampshire overcome Miller heroics
Hampshire sealed their second domestic Twenty20 crown in three years with a 10-run win over Yorkshire in the Friends Life t20 final - despite David Miller’s swashbuckling six-laden half-century at the SWALEC Stadium.
The Royals appeared on the verge of a comfortable success after reducing Yorkshire, in pursuit of 151, to 47 for four.
But Miller, who was reprieved on seven when replays proved inconclusive after Neil McKenzie claimed a catch at midwicket, had other ideas and duly turned the game on its head
Having played himself in initially, the South African struck five remarkable maximums and decimated Hampshire's impressive attack in a breathtaking display that will live long in the memory of those in attendance.
Yet the early work of Dimitri Mascarenhas et al in undermining Yorkshire's response eventually proved decisive as Chris Wood held his nerve and delivered the last over expertly.
With 14 required, the left-arm seamer found the perfect length to stunt Miller, while also picking up the wickets of Tim Bresnan, Richard Pyrah and Azeem Rafiq to complete figures of 3-26.
In the end, a total of 150 for six proved sufficient for the south coast side after they had elected to bat.
While Miller and Wood will undoubtedly get the plaudits, the performance of club legend and skipper Mascarenhas - absent due to injury during the 2010 success - will not be forgotten in a hurry by the Hampshire faithful.
The veteran all-rounder passed a late fitness test on a shoulder injury prior to today and, over two games - including the semi-final versus Somerset, claimed four wickets at the cost of just 31 runs.
Mascarenhas did not bat, likely due to the aforementioned problem, but was his wily self with the ball.
As he trudges in, the veteran looks innocuous. But, especially on a surface akin to that used today, the former England international is a mightily effective performer.
Andrew Gale and Joe Root discovered that to their detriment in the chase as they were bowled during an outstanding new-ball spell of 2-20.
That, combined with Liam Dawson and Danny Briggs accounting for an out-of-sorts Phil Jaques and in-form Jonny Bairstow respectively, appeared to have swung the pendulum decisively in Hampshire’s favour.
But Miller then unexpectedly clicked in to top gear on a tacky surface, creating problems for fish rather than fielders as an array of lusty blows located the River Taff.
The chants of “Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire” became more prominent as boundaries flew to all parts, but, in the end, the left-hander was not able to get his side over the line.
If Miller’s knock was an exhibition of brute power, Hampshire’s innings was the epitome of calculation.
With a clear target of around 150 in mind, the Royals relied on contributions throughout their order rather than a Miller-esque masterpiece.
They got just that; Jimmy Adams, their four-day and 40-over skipper, kicked things off with 43, while James Vince, Sean Ervine and Simon Katich delivered crucial contributions of their own.
The upshot was a total that proved just enough, even in the face of heroics from Yorkshire’s overseas recruit.
9:39pm – END OF INNINGS - Yorks 140/8; Miller 72 not out - HAMPSHIRE WIN BY 10 RUNS!! – No mistakes from Wood; Azeem Rafiq is caught in the ring from the final ball and Hampshire are Friends Life t20 champions. You have to feel for Yorkshire and particularly Miller, who finished unbeaten on 72 from 46 deliveries.
9:37pm – WICKET! Pyrah b Wood 1; Yor 140/7 (19.5 overs) - Miller can only muster a single to cover, so it is advantage Hampshire. Richard Pyrah diverts the next ball down to third man and another single follows as Wood holds his nerve with an accurate pitched-up delivery. Oh my, that will be that barring a no-ball or a wide; Pyrah plays on with 11 needed and only one ball remaining.
9:32pm – Bresnan c Ervine b Wood 18; Yor 137/6 (19.1 overs) - Bresnan skies one into the off side, but the batsman cross and Miller now has the strike!
9:30pm - The penultimate over is bowled by Briggs and yields only seven, with Miller just about making it back for a second off the final ball. Yorkshire need 14 and Bresnan is on strike to Wood.
9:27pm - Bresnan pulls Ervine behind square to collect another four. Miller then sees a thick outside edge narrowly evade the diving Bates and race away to the boundary rope. How significant could that be?? The next ball is clubbed over cover – 21 needed from 12 now. What a finish in prospect as Delilah rings around the SWALEC Stadium!!
9:22pm - Briggs concedes five singles before Miller plants one down the ground for his third four. Yorkshire need two a ball – 36 from three overs.
9:19pm – FIFTY! Miller (35b 2x4 5x6) - Wood returns and, after a quiet start to the over, is driven down the ground for four by Miller, who is seeing it like a football. A monstrous pull into the crowd follows to bring up the left-hander’s half-century. This is a special innings but he needs to keep going.
9:15pm - Tim Bresnan gets off the mark with a Chinese cut for four past Bates. Yorkshire are still in this and need 58 from 30.
9:13pm – WICKET! Ballance c Briggs b Ervine 7; Yor 87/5 (14.3 overs) - A key wicket for Hampshire, although Miller remains. Ballance, who has struggled to find his feet this evening, slices a back-of-a-length delivery to third man.
9:10pm - An excellent response from Dawson, who keeps Gary Ballance quiet and finishes with 1-31. Miller finds the Taff again off Briggs, however, and is really capitalising on his earlier let-off. The target is now 65 from 36 balls.
9:03pm - That will improve the mood in the Yorkshire camp - Miller smashes one into the sightscreen off Ervine and pulls the next ball over long-on for six more! Goodness me – that’s another maximum and another ball into the River Taff! Nineteen from the over and we have a game again, with 79 needed off eight overs.
8:59pm – Yorkshire are grinding to a halt. Sean Ervine’s first over goes for two and Dawson thinks he has Miller caught at midwicket soon after. There is doubt over whether the ball carried to Neil McKenzie, however, and the batsman is reprieved following the use of video replays.
8:50pm – WICKET! Bairstow c Bates b Briggs 3; Yor 47/4 (9 overs) Things are not likely to get any easier for Yorkshire as Danny Briggs, an excellent t20 bowler, enters the attack. The required rate is rising; the pressure is building and something has to give. As I type that, Bairstow pushes tentatively outside off stump and edges through to wicketkeeper Michael Bates. Hampshire are firmly on top now.
8:46pm - It should not be forgotten that Bairstow and David Miller played a huge part in Yorkshire’s semi-final win. They need to combine effectively again here if Hampshire are to be denied a second victory in three years. Miller drives Mascarenhas through the off side for four before the seamer completes an excellent return of 2-20. His eight overs today have cost just 31 - and he's injured!
8:40pm – WICKET! Jaques b Dawson 11; Yor 38/3 (6.3 overs) - Another wicket goes down! Jaques is deceived by a delivery from Dawson that turned in and kept low; the Australian plays on to leave his side in a spot of bother.
8:38pm – DROPPED CATCH – Jaques receives a life as James Vince, diving forward from long-on, cannot quite reach a looping drive. Yorkshire end the powerplay on 37 for two and Mascarenhas has 2-15 from three overs.
8:35pm – WICKET! Root b Mascarenhas 7; Yor 34/2 (5.3 overs) - It is the Dimitri Mascarenhas show out there right now. Root aims to break the shackles and the ball cannons into middle stump. That brings the in-form Jonny Bairstow to the crease.
8:33pm – Wood follows his skipper’s lead with an excellent second over yielding four runs. This
match remains delicately poised.
8:26pm – WICKET! Gale b Mascarenhas 15; Yor 24/1 (3.1 overs) – Mascarenhas strikes! His opposing captain aims a big heave across the line and plays on via bottom-edge and boot.
8:25pm - We are led to believe Dimitri Mascarenhas is far from fully fit, but here he comes from the River Taff End. After returning 2-11 from four overs earlier today, the veteran starts superbly once again but is then smeared past mid-on by Jaques. Gale subsequently plays another glorious cut stroke to take four from Chris Wood. This is just the start Yorkshire will have wanted.
8:16pm - Gale cuts Liam Dawson through cover before planting one down the ground for a second successive four as 11 come from the opening over.
8:13pm - Still all to play for then as Andrew Gale and Phil Jaques prepare to begin Yorkshire’s reply.
8:02pm – END OF INNINGS; Ham 150/6 - Ashraf takes the final over and is smeared through cover for four by Simon Katich on two successive occasions. Three fielders then converge to field a reverse-sweep from Dawson before Katich, coming back for a second, is run out off the final delivery for 25. Hampshire appear to have done well on an increasingly sluggish surface, but will their total be enough against a Yorkshire side boasting several big-hitters?
7:53pm – WICKET! Ervine c Root b Sidebottom 21; Ham 131/5 (18.2 overs) - Ervine picks out Root on the rope, giving Sidebottom a second wicket. Somewhat surprisingly, Liam Dawson walks out ahead of Dimitri Mascarenhas, although the latter’s shoulder problem may be the reason he has yet to bat.
7:47pm - With Ashraf and Sidebottom operating in tandem there have been plenty of full deliveries in the last few minutes. Hampshire would love to get past 150; they are 121 for four with three overs to come. The crowd, meanwhile, are participating in a rousing rendition of the Neil Diamond classic ‘Sweet Caroline’.
7:42pm – WICKET! Vince b Ashraf 36; Ham 113/4 (15.4 overs) - Vince backs away and drives confidently through extra-cover again, this time off Ashraf. A leg-side four follows before the bowler gains revenge by hitting the stumps with a pitched-up delivery. Yorkshire really needed that.
7:39pm - A good final over from Rafiq, who completes figures of 1-22, having conceded one run fewer against Sussex. Ervine, adopting an aggressive approach, is already on to 17 from 10 balls, and Vince picks up his first boundary with a sweetly timed cover drive off Bresnan. Hampshire are upping the tempo now.
7:32pm - Those two wickets have left things delicately poised. Sean Ervine, an impressive all-round performer against Somerset, gets Hampshire moving again with an effortless straight six off Pyrah. With seven overs remaining, the score is 89 for three.
7:27pm – WICKET! McKenzie lbw Rafiq 4; Ham 76/3 (11.4 overs) - Neil McKenzie falls leg before for the second time in a matter of hours. The veteran South African is not particularly happy about it either; he feels he made contact with the bat when trying to sweep a full ball from Rafiq.
7:23pm – WICKET! Adams c Ballance b Pyrah 43; Ham 70/2 (10.4 overs) - Adams opens his shoulders and clubs Pyrah over cow corner for six. Having done so, one can only imagine why he felt the need to attack the next delivery. The decision backfires as Gary Ballance accepts a comfortable chance at long-off.
7:20pm - This is sensible stuff from Adams and Vince, who are largely eschewing risk but keeping the score ticking over with neat placement and hard running. The second-wicket pair are laying a platform for a late assault and I would imagine Hampshire will be content to defend anything over 145 on this surface. Vince has a small let-off when he gloves Rafiq through the legs of wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
7:14pm - Yorkshire have been a touch sloppy in the field thus far, in contrast to their usual efforts. Moin Ashraf and Azeem Rafiq are unable to make a breakthrough on their respective introductions to the attack and the batting side are building momentum nicely now.
7:06pm - Bresnan increases the pressure on Hampshire by conceding a solitary single in his second set of six. Runs have not come easily on this surface, but Adams collects a welcome four by driving Richard Pyrah down the ground. Two balls later, the left-hander only just clears a leaping Root at mid-on. Hampshire end the powerplay on 36 for one.
7pm - New batsman James Vince sees a leading edge spoon over Sidebottom and land safely. The former England left-armer has 1-9 from two overs.
6:57pm – WICKET! Carberry b Sidebottom 8; Ham 23/1 (3.3 overs) - Carberry aims a swipe across the line at Sidebottom, who hits the top of off to hand Yorkshire an early scalp.
6:55pm - Ryan Sidebottom begins his spell with a tight over. Tim Bresnan replaces Root and is immediately pulled for four by Jimmy Adams, who then loops one over mid-on for two more.
6:47pm - Michael Carberry picks up the first boundary of the final with a slog-swept four off Joe Root. Nine from the first over and a good start for Hampshire.
6:44pm - Joe Root to open the bowling again for Yorkshire, as he did in the semi-final. Here we go!
6:40pm - It is now a glorious evening in Cardiff. Thankfully, our worries over the weather have proved unnecessary and a sell-out crowd is basking in sunshine as the start approaches.
6:30pm - Hard to say who starts as favourite for this one. Yorkshire looked tremendously impressive when beating Sussex in the day’s opening match, with Jonny Bairstow playing a starring role. Yet Hampshire also performed admirably to see off Somerset and know what it takes to win this competition.
6:20pm - HAMPSHIRE WIN TOSS AND BAT – Dimitri Mascarenhas wins the toss, as he did against Somerset this afternoon, and chooses to bat on this occasion. His decision is understandable, with the pitch having played slower as the day has wore on. Both teams are unchanged from their semi-final victories.
Hampshire: Jimmy Adams, Michael Carberry, James Vince, Neil McKenzie, Simon Katich, Sean Ervine, Liam Dawson, Dimitri Mascarenhas (captain), Chris Wood, Michael Bates,Danny Briggs.
Yorkshire: Andrew Gale (captain), Phil Jaques, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, David Miller, Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan, Richard Pyrah, Azeem Rafiq, Ryan Sidebottom, Moin Ashraf.
6:15pm - The Friends Life t20 is about to reach its climax at the SWALEC Stadium. Yorkshire and Hampshire are the two teams to have made it through to the final and the toss is about to take place.