Surrey last night underlined their status as the most successful team in the Twenty20 format by piling up their highest total in the competition in a crushing defeat of the one-time one-day kings, Gloucestershire.
Surrey, who won the inaugural Twenty20 Cup in 2003 and were runners-up the following year, now head to Trent Bridge for Finals Day on 12 August and their fourth successive semi-final.
These two sides had promised much in this tie, bristling as they were with high achievers in this abbreviated form of the game.
Gloucestershire's Ian Harvey came into this match as the second-highest overall scorer (869 runs) since the competition began in 2003. But the Brown Hats also boasted big guns with the bat: Alistair Brown is another to have passed the 800-mark, while James Benning and Mark Ramprakash had amassed more than 600 each. But Surrey were also potent on the bowling front: the left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi began the match as the leading wicket-taker, with Tim Murtagh five behind on 36.
Harvey was unable to help Gloucestershire, chopping on to a delivery from the Indian Test leg-spinner Anil Kumble, and Doshi's four wickets - his third such haul this summer - took his overall tally to 45.
Gloucestershire had no answer to the Nottingham-born spinner. Alex Gidman made a fist of it but lacked support. It was testament to the paucity of Gloucestershire runs that the acting captain - in place of Jon Lewis, who was prohibited from playing after being selected in England's squad for the second Test which starts at Old Trafford on Thursday - that Gidman was the top scorer with 25.
Earlier Gloucestershire found themselves caught between the hard place of the free-hitting Clarke at one end and the rock-like Ramprakash at the other. Clarke hit five sixes in his unbeaten innings - only his second fifty in this competition. He was dropped twice, once on 32 by David Brown at long on and then, seven runs later, Mark Hardinges spilled a top-edged pull off his own bowling.
Clarke made Gloucestershire pay dearly for those misses, advancing to his half-century in 26 balls. Ramprakash followed suit a couple of overs later, and although his had seemed far slower in comparison to Clarke's, he required just 34 balls to reach the mark.
By the time Ramprakash fell in the final over, driving hard to extra cover, he and Clarke had piled up 139 runs off 12 overs. Ramprakash's innings, his third fifty in the competition this season, contained three sixes. In all Surrey managed nine hits over the boundary fence.Reuse content