Impressive Hampshire book final berth
Hampshire 271 (Adams 78, Lumb 76, Chapple 3-46, Keedy 3-49, Mahmood 3-56) beat Lancashire 207 (Laxman 54, Tahir 3-38) by 64 runs
Hampshire booked their place in the Friends Provident Trophy final with a 64-run victory against Lancashire at Old Trafford. The visitors made all the early running with Jimmy Adams and Michael Lumb opening with 159 before the innings slipped away, but the Hampshire spinners - and some outstanding fielding - throttled the home side's chase as Imran Tahir produced a wonderful display of legspin.
At the change of innings Lancashire had the momentum having taken all 10 Hampshire wickets for 112 through a combination of Sajid Mahmood, Gary Keedy and Glen Chapple and, despite early loss of Paul Horton, who edged to slip, Mal Loye and VVS Laxman set a solid base for the chase. However, on a surface that became slower through the day, it became difficult for new batsmen to keep up with an increasing asking rate against Tahir's variations and the medium-pace of Sean Ervine.
Loye, playing his first 50-over game of the season, unfurled his trademark sweep during a second-wicket stand of 73 while Laxman ticked along in his typically laconic style before falling to an attempted sweep in Tahir's first over. Tahir is the ultimate journeyman cricketer having played for 10 first-class teams, but is now qualified for South Africa and is fancied to make his international debut against England later this year. It is quite a story - someone who could have faded away from the professional game, but is instead flourishing in the second half of his career.
Taking the pace off the ball proved a key weapon and Ervine was perfect for the role, although Mark Chilton's scalp was something of a bonus because it came off a long hop pulled to deep square-leg. Ervine's second wicket was down to a brilliant piece of fielding by Adams, who dived full length to his left to remove Francois du Plessis and dent Lancashire's hopes severely. Hampshire's fielding was impressive and Adams was at the centre of the action again when he plucked off another fine catch at short cover to remove Laxman off the deserving Liam Dawson.
Although Steven Croft and Luke Sutton accumulated, they were never up with the asking-rate and Dimitri Mascarenhas returned to have Sutton leg before. Tahir operated within the batting Powerplay and produced two perfect googlies to remove Chapple and Croft.
In the end Hampshire's total proved more than enough, but for the first half of the innings they were on course for at least 330. Adams was by far the more aggressive but both openers picked up sixes over the leg side as the momentum increased with the hundred coming inside 15 overs. Adams reached his fifty off 47 deliveries and Lumb, despite his slow start, was slightly quicker, needing only 45 balls for his half century.
The spinners were in action as soon as the bowling Powerplay was finished but the scoreboard continued to tick over at a healthy rate. It was the return of Mahmood, who conceded 28 in his first three overs, which brought the breakthrough when Adams sliced to the athletic du Plessis.
Nine runs later Mahmood struck again when Lumb drove a slower ball to mid-on and Lancashire began to tighten the screw. Keedy trapped Michael Carberry leg before and removed Ervine when the allrounder heaved across the line. Keedy claimed a third in his final over when Dawson went back in his crease and was plumb in front.
Such was change in tempo that once the opening stand was broken the remainder of the innings produced only four boundaries. Hampshire held back their Powerplay until the last five overs but were seven down and failed to use up the overs as Chapple and Mahmood wrapped up the innings. However, in a semi-final, runs on the board add to the pressure and Hampshire were outstanding in the field and left Lancashire rueing another near miss.
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo