Northamptonshire have reached finals day for the first time in the Twenty20 Cup, overcoming Hampshire in a dramatic finish to a low-scoring game in which the newly crowned Friends Provident Trophy champions lost their last four wickets without scoring to finish 14 short of their target.
The underdogs did it without the help of Ian Harvey, who became the first player to to miss a game because of swine flu.
Given that he had scored 258 and taken 12 wickets in propelling his team to the quarter-finals, losing the 37-year-old all-rounder had looked to be a major blow for the home side, yet they overcame the odds, the match turning on its head after Dmitri Mascarenhas had been bowled in the penultimate over as Hampshire chased 135 to win. The Hampshire captain had hit 36 off 24 balls, including 16 in one over off the left-arm spinner, Nicky Boje, and with 11 balls remaining had seemed set to have the final say. But after he had been bowled by the South African paceman Johan van der Wath, jamming a yorker-length ball into the ground only to see it trickle back on to his stumps, Hampshire's hopes fell apart in eight deliveries.
First Chris Tremlett swung at Van der Wath and missed, and then, after Andrew Hall had been entrusted with the final over, Dominic Cork holed out to Boje at long off and deputy wicketkeeper Tom Burrows – called up after Nic Pothas cried off with a groin strain – was bowled. It completed a remarkable recovery by Northamptonshire, for whom Hall had thrashed 39 off 24 balls but whose 134 for 6 looked well below par, even on a slow track.
Hampshire raced to 36 for 1 in four overs, but after Lee Daggett removed Michael Lumb and Michael Carberry, Northamptonshire hauled them back. Daggett also took a superb boundary catch to see off Sean Ervine. But it was to be Van der Wath who would have the last word. Northamptonshire will play Sussex in their semi-final.
Lancashire were left counting the potential cost after losing their quarter-final to Somerset in humiliating fashion. After two days of rain had reduced the match to a bowl-out in the indoor cricket school, Lancashire's bowlers failed to hit the stumps with seven consecutive deliveries. Steven Cheetham was successful with his first effort, but missed with his second before V V S Laxman, Stephen Parry and the captain Mark Chilton all proved equally unable to bowl straight.
The winners of the competition will play in the Champions League in India, earning at least $500,000 [£303,000].