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Ervine keeps Hants on course for Lord's
SEAN Ervine guided Hampshire to the brink of another semi-final before insisting: “That will count for nothing at Finals Day.”
Hampshire showed why they are the best limited-overs team in the country with an outstanding three-wicket win against Surrey, their Friends Life t20 semi-final opponents at Edgbaston tomorrow afternoon.
With Derbyshire beating Durham, their nearest rivals in YB40 Group B, Ervine’s match-winning 65 not out (63 balls) completed a perfect night for the Royals, who while not mathematically certain of another last-four berth have probably already done enough with two games to go.
Ervine will become Hampshire’s most decorated player of all time if Hampshire win another t20 title tomorrow but after leading the charge as the Royals chased down 220 with eight balls to spare, he said: “Anything can happen in t20, it can go either way, but this takes the pressure off us at Old Trafford on Tuesday, when we’ll be without four key players.” [Danny Briggs, James Vince and Michael Carberry are with the England Lions and Sohail Tanvir’s stint ends with Finals Day] What made last night’s victory even more impressive was that Carberry and Vince, their stellar opening pair, were gone just eight balls into Hampshire’s reply.
Carberry nicked the third ball of the innings down the leg side and Jon Lewis, 38 later this month, belied his years with an outstanding return catch low to his left to see off Vince in the next over.
Jimmy Adams and Neil McKenzie put on 55, but then highly-rated Surrey teen Tom Curran, son of Kevin, accounted for them in successive overs.
Liam Dawson made up for a below-par evening with the ball (6-0-52-0), with a 31-ball 40, driving Tremlett for ten in two balls, to set up a fascinating second half to Hampshire’s innings He was bowled attempting to pull Zander De Bruyn, after putting on 64 in nine overs with Ervine, and Adam Wheater was run out attempting a quick single from his first ball.
At 140-6 after 30 overs, it needed Dimi Mascarenhas to play his best Hampshire innings since last year’s thrilling t20 quarter final win at Notts.
He duly delivered, putting on 71 in nine thrilling overs with Ervine while scoring a run-a-ball 31.
Ervine was in irresistible form. He made Ansari pay for dropping a sitter at mid-wicket when he was 46, drilling four through cover to go past fifty and leave 45 needed from six overs.
With the target in his sights, he lost Mascarenhas to a great catch from Ansari, before another Wood cameo showed that the Hampshire all-rounder’s spot will be in safe hands next season.
Hampshire were disappointed to let Surrey get as many as they did after reducing them to 39-4 in the tenth over, but the visitors scored at a run-a-ball for the rest of their innings to ensure a tricky chase under lights.
Rory Burns (49) and Zafar Ansari (62 from 54 balls) led the recovery, the latter hitting Dawson for three successive fours to reach his second one-day fifty en route to the highest score of his career.
A leading edge against a slower ball from the excellent Sohail Tanvir (2-27) saw Ansari well caught by Adams, but Tremlett carved Wood for ten in two balls in the final over - six over cover and four through backward point – to put the required rate up to 5.5.
But after an uncharacteristically slow start, Hampshire once again showed how hard they are to beat.
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