SIMON Katich believes Hampshire can boost their silverware hopes with two big limited-overs wins against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in the next nine days.
The Royals can take a giant step towards Clydesdale Bank 40 semi-final qualification by beating Notts tonight – and they return to Trent Bridge for their FL t20 quarter-final next Wednesday.
Katich said: “They’re both tough games of cricket , hopefully we can beat them and follow it up next week.
“A win would really set us up in the CB40 as Notts are probably the next team now that can really catch us given that they’re a couple of games behind and had a good win against Surrey on Sunday.
“Notts have got a very good team.
They’ve got a powerful batting line-up.
Most of their top seven is very strong and they have experienced bowlers as well. Regardless of who’s available for them, they’ll be tough opposition.
“But at the same time we’ve got bowling that can restrict them.”
Hampshire will want to avenge their only CB40 defeat of the season, a highscoring thriller against Notts at the Ageas Bowl at the end of May.
James Taylor’s unbeaten 115 from only 77 balls helped Notts to 277-4 and Hampshire did well to get as close as they did, losing by 12 runs.
“We had a very disappointing game against them first up,” recalled Katich. “We did a lot of things well for the first 30-odd overs and then, for the last four or five overs, they hurt us.
“Hopefully we’ll learn from that and bowl a bit differently to Taylor because we didn’t get it right that day.
“To be fair to our guys it was drizzling pretty steadily and maybe that contributed to it.
“But we have to have better plans than we did last time because we got it horribly wrong.
“It cost us in the end because they got something like 70 runs off the last four or five overs. We can do better than that.”
The three CB40 group winners and the best runners-up qualify for the semi-finals.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, there are plenty of teams still vying for the semis but, with five games to go at least we’ve put ourselves in a good position,” said Katich.
Michael Lumb will be aiming to put on a good show against his former Hampshire colleagues tonight.
Lumb quit The Ageas Bowl last summer when he moved to Trent Bridge, and faces his ex-employers for the second time this season.
On the first occasion, in the CB40 at The Ageas Bowl at the end of May, Lumb was out fifth ball for a duck, trapped leg before by Kabir Ali.
Notts still went on to win, though, thanks to James Taylor’s sensational 115 not out, helped by 66 from Samit Patel and 32 not out from another former Hampshire batsman, Adam Voges.
Hampshire went top of their CB 40 group by beating Durham on Sunday at the same time as former table-toppers Surrey were losing to Notts.
Surrey went into that game having not lost in the 40-over league this year, but they were quickly reduced to 8-5 en route to 123 all out.
Lumb was run out for 13 and opening partner Alex Hales made just 22 in reply.
But Taylor’s unbeaten 41 guided Notts to a fivewicket win, and they could yet overtake Hampshire if they win tonight and also win their two games in hand.