Report: Essex v Hampshire, Finals Day Semi-Final
Eight days after beating the Bears in Birmingham in the quarter-finals, Simon Harmer’s side chased down a D/L target if 115 from 12 overs with three balls to spare to wreck Hampshire’s hopes of becoming the first team ever to retain the Blast trophy.
Put in, Hampshire totalled 170 for seven from their full 20 overs thanks to Joe Weatherley’s composed unbeaten 63 (39 balls) against an attack skilfully led by Matt Critchley (4-0-22-2) and Shane Snater (3-0-15-1).
Rain then interrupted Essex’s reply at 19 for one from 2.5 overs and, faced with the new target, they were set back by the loss of three wickets in six balls soon after the resumption.
They rallied brilliantly, though, and requiring 13 from the last six balls, needed just three of them as Matt Critchley and Harmer each clubbed Nathan Ellis for six.
Hampshire were delighted that Ben McDermott, injured for the quarter-final, was passed fit and he gave them a thunderous launch with 29 from 12 balls, including five fours and a six. That lifted his side to 39 from just 17 balls but Essex struck back with two huge wickets in five balls. McDermott swiped Sam Cook to long leg and James Vince, top batter in this season’s Blast with 638 runs, lifted Snater to mid off having added just 13 to his tally.
Essex’s spinners accelerated the pendulum swing as Critchley trapped Tom Prest lbw and Harmer drew a skied drive from Liam Dawson which was well-taken by Critchley running back from extra cover. The clatter meant Weatherley and James Fuller had to retrench rather then unload and their 32 stand occupied 29 balls before the latter lifted Critchley to long on.
The unloading had to come eventually though and it came late as Weatherley, having reached his sixth T20 half-century, from 34 balls. and Benny Howell (22, ten balls) thrashed 40 from the last 19 balls.
Weatherley was then immediately in the action in the field, taking a brilliant catch on the run at deep fine leg to oust Adam Rossington from the second ball of the innings.
After the rain break, Hampshire took command when Fuller struck twice in his first five balls as Michael Pepper skied to third man and Dan Lawrence nicked an attempted pull. When John Turner pinned Walter lbw, Essex were under serious pressure at 50 for four.
Daniel Sams (29, 17 balls) bludgeoned Essex back into the hunt with a couple of sixes and, with 28 needed from three overs, it was anybody’s game. Sams socked another six, off countryman Ellis, but was then coolly taken by Ross Whiteley on the cover boundary.
It came down to 13 off the last over and Critchley heaved Ellis straight for six before Harmer emulated the blow to send Essex into the final.
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