Hampshire champions after thrilling finish
Hampshire 173 for 5 (McKenzie 52, Ervine 44*) beat Somerset 173 for 6 (Kieswetter 71) by losing fewer wickets
Hampshire secured the Friends Provident t20 in extraordinary style by losing fewer wickets than Somerset after scores finished level after a frantic final two overs that turned a comfortable chase into a mad scramble. It ended with Dan Christian, who had to call for a runner for the final ball, scoring a leg bye and then, forgetting his injury, sprinting the length of the pitch only for Somerset to miss the chance to run him out and secure victory themselves. One-hundred-and-fifty-one matches came down to one ball.
The game looked done and dusted when the penultimate over started with Hampshire needing 11 to win, but Ben Phillips claimed two wickets as he removed Neil McKenzie for 52 then had Michael Carberry caught for a duck from a top edge. In between he'd seen Sean Ervine spilled at deep square-leg by Nick Compton, who was only on the field because of a horrid eye injury suffered by Kieron Pollard at the end of Somerset's innings.
The final over began with eight needed and both batsmen swung at fresh air while Craig Kieswetter missed two chances to hit the stumps with under-arms. Off the penultimate ball Christian pulled his hamstring coming back for a second which meant Jimmy Adams had to come out as a runner. When Christian missed the last ball it looked mighty close for lbw, but replays showed it was just sliding down leg side, yet still there was confusion.
Eventually the result was confirmed by the umpires and Hampshire launched into their celebrations, led by the 39-year-old Dominic Cork who had been pacing the sidelines during the closing stages. In the final outcome his last over of the Somerset innings proved vital as he conceded just three runs, claimed two wickets and sent Pollard to hospital as a sharp bouncer squeezed between the grill into his right eye. It was an incident that shook Cork.
Pollard's absence in the field left Somerset a key bowler and fielder short and it became telling after Hampshire started the chase with a string of boundaries. Abdul Razzaq helped them collect the best Powerplay score of the day with the fifty stand coming off 29 balls, a significant achievement on a surface being used for its third match in nine hours. However, two balls before the fielding restrictions were lifted Razzaq got a top edge against Peter Trego and Kieswetter just managed to settle under the spiralling catch as it dropped from the floodlights.
Three balls later James Vince was on his way after a sharp piece of work from James Hildreth at short third-man who threw to the keeper while still on his knees. The chase then went into accumulation mode as Adams and McKenzie consolidated while Marcus Trescothick juggled his attack without Pollard. His sixth bowler proved an inspired choice as Arul Suppiah removed Adams via an inside edge into the stumps first ball.
Then came the major stand as McKenzie and Ervine used all their experience to soak up the pressure as they added 79. It was smart, risk-free batting which kept the required rate under control until McKenzie had a rush of blood and carved a catch to cover. It looked nothing more than a minor blip, but it almost turned the match completely on its head.
With the rare situation of a home team being in a final it was one of the better attended conclusions to the tournament where the last game has often been played to large sections of empty seats as supporters from eliminated sides head home. Some did filter out during the day, but the stands were still well populated during the mad closing stages.
Somerset's innings only came to life in the second half as Kieswetter anchored the effort with 71 off 59 balls. After a stodgy start, where he took 37 balls to make 29, he hit 42 off his last 22 deliveries having done well not to throw his innings away as the pressure mounted. It's a display that is likely to come in for criticism, and Kieswetter still isn't back to his best, but a straight six off Danny Briggs and another cover drive that cleared the ropes were positive signs.
Crucially for Hampshire's hopes, they snuffed out Trescothick before he could do major damage having threatened something violent with 19 from eight balls. After his second six he managed to pull a long hop to midwicket and couldn't believe what he had done. With Kieswetter and Trego not connecting cleanly the boundaries dried up.
Key to that was another impressive spell of left-arm spin from Briggs to follow his 3 for 29 in the semi-final. He isn't afraid to give the ball a rip and throw it up a touch, easier said than done when batsmen want to charge, and he is a rapidly developing cricketer.
That was one of the most pleasing aspects about Hampshire's success. Although the main part of their chase was fashioned by two former seasoned internationals - and the end was chaotic - there is a strong core of English youth in the side which can help carry them forward.
They said they didn't want Kevin Pietersen and their faith has been fully justified. Even if it was too close for comfort.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo