Surrey 74 for 4 (Payne 3-18) beat Gloucestershire 73 for 7 (Plunkett 3-11) by six wickets
Surrey strutted into their final T20 Blast final since 2013 by beating Gloucestershire with eight balls to spare to seal their ninth win on the bounce in an 11-over game at Edgbaston after the rain eventually relented in Birmingham.
Gloucestershire's fraught start, in which their openers struggled to get bat on ball, set the tone for a frantic innings in which they compiled only 73. Liam Plunkett, who took 3 for 11, was the standout performer, but Reece Topley and Will Jacks' frugal start was just as important.
In the chase, Gloucestershire threatened put the squeeze on in the middle overs to keep the nerves jangling in the Surrey dugout, but after Jacks and Jason Roy had pounded three boundaries in the first over it always looked like being their day, and Ben Foakes' run-a-ball 20 secured their spot in the final.
With four top-order batsmen in their quarter-final side, Surrey had no interest in reputations when picking their side: they left out a man with 349 internationals caps, Hashim Amla, for a man with none, Jordan Clark, who had impressed in an intra-squad game after missing the group stage with injury. In the event it mattered little, but it will be intriguing to see if they stick with the same formula in the final.
Both sides had played abbreviated games earlier in the competition: Gloucestershire won a 12-over thrash against Birmingham Bears on this ground, while Surrey had cruised past Hampshire in an 11-over contest. It was no surprise that Gareth Batty chose to bowl with no idea how the pitch would play after three days under cover, but Surrey's start exceeded even his wildest dreams.
Gloucs fluff their lines
Whether or not Gloucestershire had a score in mind for their 3.2 overs of Powerplay, it is hard to picture their plan involved a total of 12 for 1 after that stage. Chris Dent and Miles Hammond seemed panicked by the occasion as they failed repeatedly to lay bat on ball; when Hammond skied his 11th ball up to Foakes with a single run to his name, there must have been some temptation to drop it and extend his misery.
Ian Cockbain then flicked the first ball after the fielding restrictions were lifted to midwicket, and Dent skied a catch up in the same direction and over later. Jack Taylor holed out to the boundary-rider to give Plunkett a wicket with his first ball, and while Ryan Higgins and Benny Howell briefly threatened a late flourish, the same man removed both in as many balls to extinguish any lingering hope of reaching a par score.
No Payne, no gain
With Gloucestershire desperate for early wickets if they were to set the game up for their middle-over stalwarts Howell and Tom Smith, it seemed obvious who should take the new ball: in David Payne, they had the Blast's leading Powerplay wicket-taker since 2017 in their side.
But by the time Payne came on for the second over, the task was almost insurmountable: Graeme van Buuren's left-arm spin had been carved for three boundaries by Roy and Jacks. Payne removed Roy with his fourth ball thanks to a superb catch from Howell running back, but with the required rate already down at a run a ball, it seemed like the game was already up.
Surrey threatened a wobble when they went 16 balls without a boundary in the middle overs, struggling to time the ball against Howell and Smith, but when Foakes drilled a straight six it eased the chokehold and took the equation back down to six an over.
Payne's cutter removed Foakes to give him a third wicket, but Jamie Overton - unused with the ball - pushed a full toss down the ground to seal the win.