Different strokes as Hampshire limp home

Somerset 173-6 Hampshire 173-5 <i>(Scores tied; Hampshire win by losing fewer wickets)</i>: Power of Ervine and precision of McKenzie allow hosts to coast to victory on Twenty20 Finals Day but a chaotic climax leaves them stumbling at the death
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The Independent Online

Hampshire defied the odds, and a severe attack of nerves, to lift the T20 Cup in front of a capacity crowd here with the ground packed with supporters of the host team.

They did it by virtue of losing one wicket fewer than Somerset with the scores level. But that does not even begin to tell the story because the hosts were coasting to success when they needed 11 runs off the last two overs with seven wickets in hand.

Instead of cruising over the line, though, they lost two wickets in the penultimate over, then kept trying to run themselves out in the last over, bowled by Zander de Bruyn. Dan Christian pulled a muscle and needed Jimmy Adams to run for him with a single needed off the final ball.

Between them they managed to get over the line, thanks to a leg-bye, but what a finish. Especially since Christian ran the single as well as his runner, which he should not have been allowed to do.

Dominic Cork's side of experienced campaigners and talented youngsters had gone into domestic cricket's longest day as the outsiders of the four, and understandably so after losing twice to Essex and twice to Somerset during the group phase of this year's competition.

But having put one record straight against the Eagles yesterday afternoon, Hampshire just about did it again last night to be crowned champions on what was their first appearance at Finals Day.

Chasing 174 for victory, Cork's men were undeniably helped by a serious-looking injury to Somerset's West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard, who was felled by a bouncer from the home captain and forced to retire hurt during the final over of the Somerset innings.

Pollard left the field with a bloodied face and an already closed eye. But it was the loss of his medium-pace bowling, rather than any late runs he might have scored, which hurt Somerset – who lost last year's final to Sussex.

However, Hampshire, led by an irrepressible 39-year-old in Cork and having resisted the temptation to call up Kevin Pietersen when Michael Lumb broke a foot last week, were still worthy winners.

With 160 a par score at the Rose Bowl, the hosts knew they needed a flying start to their pursuit. And, boy, did they get one with 62 runs coming from the first six overs as Abdul Razzaq and Jimmy Adams feasted on bowling that was both medium-paced and highly inviting.

De Bruyn, who was pressed into emergency action with first-choice all-rounder Pollard making his way to hospital for a check-up, was clubbed for a couple of sixes, then Ben Phillips went for 17 in an over to set Somerset's alarm bells ringing.

Razzaq's hopes of a match-winning innings ended, though, when he skied another big shot. Then the young gun James Vince was run out first ball following a fine stop and throw from James Hildreth, and Adams failed to deal with Arul Suppiah's skidding left-arm spin.

Cometh the hour, cometh the southern Africans. Neil McKenzie, born in Johannesburg, and Sean Ervine, from Harare, came together with the match in the balance at 84 for 3 but broke West Country hearts with a wonderful stand of 79 in nine overs before McKenzie holed out.

Ervine was then badly dropped by substitute fielder Nick Compton at deep square leg during a penultimate over, from Ben Phillips, which also saw the end of Michael Carberry.

But the final over was even more dramatic with keeper Craig Kieswetter twice missing run-out chances and the groundsman needing to paint fresh lines on the square for the runner before the final ball could be bowled.

It is anyone's guess how many Somerset might have set had Marcus Trescothick cracked on, instead of holing out, after hitting 19 runs from his first seven balls.

It was not only Trescothick who looked glum for a time, though. Kieswetter has found cricket something of a struggle this season since helping England to win the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, and here the opener had to search long and hard to find his touch and timing.

While Kieswetter toiled, Peter Trego made good progress from the outset. He raised the tempo by pulling Razzaq for six after sweeping the impressive young left-arm spinner Danny Briggs to the boundary. But then, like Trescothick before him, Trego holed out.

Now the onus was on Kieswetter to convert a steady start into something significant. A six driven down the ground off Briggs lifted his confidence, as well as his strike rate, and then Razzaq was drilled over extra cover.

By the time Kieswetter holed out for 71 in the 18th over, he had posted his highest limited-overs score of the season and reminded everyone why England wanted him in their one-day team. But even so, Somerset's hopes of finishing with a real flourish failed to materialise.

Final scoreboard

Somerset won toss

Somerset

*M E Trescothick c Christian b Abdul Razzaq 19/2/0/8

†K C Kieswetter c Carberry b Christian 71/2/6/59

P D Trego c Ervine b Briggs 33/1/3/24

J C Hildreth c Christian b Abdul Razzaq 12/0/0/14

J C Buttler c Vince b Cork 5/0/0/7

K A Pollard retired hurt 22/2/1/7

Z de Bruyn not out/0/0/0/0

A V Suppiah c Bates b Cork 0/0/0/1

B J Phillips not out 0/0/0/1

Extras (lb 1, w 8, nb 2) 11

Total (6 wkts, 20 overs) 173

Fall 1-41, 2-97, 3-145, 4-149, 5-173, 6-173.

Did Not Bat A C Thomas, M Kartik.

Bowling D G Cork 4-0-24-2, C P Wood 4-0-51-0, Abdul Razzaq 4-0-37-2, D T Christian 4-0-30-1, D R Briggs 4-0-30-1.

Hampshire

J H K Adams b Suppiah 34/1/3/24

Abdul Razzaq c Kieswetter b Trego 33/1/6/19

J M Vince run out 0/0/0/1

N D McKenzie c Trescothick b Phillips 52/1/3/39

S M Ervine lbw b de Bruyn 44/0/7/31

M A Carberry c Kieswetter b Phillips 0/0/0/2

D T Christian not out 3/0/0/4

Extras (b 2,lb 4, w 1) 7

Total (5 wkts, 20 overs) 173

Fall 1-60, 2-62, 3-84, 4-163, 5-164, 6-174.

Did Not Bat *D G Cork, C P Wood, †A M Bates, D R Briggs.

Bowling A C Thomas 4-0-23-0, B J Phillips 4-0-44-2, Z de Bruyn 3-0-29-0, P D Trego 4-0-38-1, M Kartik 4-0-27-0, A V Suppiah 1-0-6-1.

Umpires R K Illingworth & R J Bailey.

Man of the Match N D McKenzie (Hants).

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