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First-person reports from the stands
The Friends Provident t20 Cup final: Hampshire v Somerset at the Rose Bowl. It's a ground I know well, having been to see one-day matches here many times, but Twenty20 Finals Day was a new experience. It didn't disappoint.
Hampshire, because of the two counties, they're the closest to being our local team. Also because they were considered to be the underdogs, and I always like to support an underdog. Mainly, though, I was interested in seeing a close contest.
One thing I'd have changed
I might have done without the cry of "Heigh-Ho" over the PA system that greeted each change of bowler - it quickly became tiresome.
Binoculars, our trusted copy of Playfair, and a pocket radio to pick up the live commentary on BBC Solent. The forecast for the day was mixed and so we came prepared for all conditions, with raincoats and umbrellas, but luckily the showers passed over before the final began.
Although Neil McKenzie was the Man of the Match for Hampshire, it was Abdul Razzaq who got his team's innings off to a flying start. His scintillating 33 from 19 balls - of which only three runs did not come in boundaries - had the crowd on its feet. It also completed a solid all-round display after earlier taking the wickets of Marcus Trescothick and James Hildreth.
Neil McKenzie's 52 was solid, composed and not at all flamboyant. Which made it all the more surprising when in the 17th over, he hit Alfonso Thomas for six.
The final over was the most dramatic. On two separate occasions, Kieswetter tried to run out Sean Ervine with underarm throws from behind the stumps, and both times he missed. It probably cost Somerset the match.
Shot of the day
Trescothick's first six - hit hard off the front foot, square of cover - oozed confidence, especially since it was only off the sixth ball he had faced. But unfortunately there was to be no repeat of the 60 from 28 balls he'd plundered in the semi-final against Nottinghamshire because two balls later he holed out to mid-on.
Catch of the match
There were several to choose from, but for pure skill and athleticism, the award would have to go to Daniel Christian for his lightning-fast reactions. His diving, one-handed catch at backward point removed Hildreth to help keep Somerset in check just as they were starting to pull away.
The Rose Bowl always has a fantastic atmosphere, but the temporary stands which had been erected around the ground made it feel like a real stadium. The crowd warmed up as the match progressed, and it wasn't long before a Mexican wave was going around the stands.
As expected Finals Day had it all: from medieval knights to Oompa-Loompas; from a bunch of giant bananas to a squad of Imperial stormtroopers. By far the most imaginative group, though, had to be the Jamaican bobsleigh team featured in Cool Runnings, complete with lycra suits and a cardboard sled painted in green, black and gold. Sadly the contraption fell apart during the brief afternoon showers, but it didn't seem to dampen their enthusiasm.
There was, of course, the obligatory burst of music and cheerleading with every boundary scored or wicket which went down. As if events on the field weren't exciting enough.
Sight to behold
Hampshire lifting the cup as fireworks lit up the sky behind them. Their first triumph in a Twenty20 tournament was all the sweeter for having happened on their home ground.
The groundstaff, who did a fantastic job during the rain interruptions to keep the amount of time lost to a minimum. Only seven overs were lost during the second semi-final and the final itself was able to go the full distance.
It was a compelling game with plenty of twists and turns, proving that Twenty20 isn't just about big hitting. Hampshire's target of 174 was a challenging one, especially under floodlights, but they started strongly and for a long while seemed to have the match under control. In truth, Somerset looked as if they were a bowler short after Kieron Pollard was injured while batting, but they managed to wrest the initiative in the closing stages to set up a nail-biting finish.
Marks out of 10
9. It's always exciting to see a high-scoring game, and the atmosphere of Finals Day can't be beaten. A great day's entertainment, and a great day's cricket.
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