Northamptonshire 135 for 3 (Rossington 63*, Roland-Jones 2-24) beat Middlesex 132 for 7 (Bailey 46, Stirling 35, Kleinveldt 3-24) by seven wickets
Scorecard

Northamptonshire Steelbacks sealed the second Finals Day spot with a commanding seven-wicket win over Middlesex. "No one likes us and we don't care" rang out from a few in the Ken Turner Stand, as they rose to embrace more Twenty20 success.

While the sentiment seems a tad forced, there is a feeling in this part of the world that many take delight in shedding light on their faults, while applying the dimmer when success comes their way. For the third time in four years, they will command the Edgbaston spotlight.

It was a game that boiled down to how both sides operated outside the Powerplay overs. And even that can be caveated by the fact that the Steelbacks, who were all for chasing before Dawid Malan won the toss and opted to set a target, knew they didn't have to break sweat.

That Northants were led to victory by a measured and unbeaten 67 from Adam Rossington will have stung Middlesex supporters. Rossington used to be theirs: a plunderer of runs in the Middlesex second team while the first XI stuttered, hammering away at a door that, ultimately, never fully opened for him.

Opportunities came with the white ball, but Middlesex's ambivalence to limited overs cricket at the time, coupled with John Simpson's desire to play all forms, meant he was beginning to exist in a void. The cheers of six-and-a-half thousand filled every bit of air above Wantage Road when he helped the final ball of the match around the corner for four.

So much of the occasion spoke of being Northants' night. Two hours before the start, Abington Avenue was at a standstill as members were turned away from the car park as Sky set-up their various trailers across most of the Wantage Road car park behind the Pavilion. "That's why we don't invite 'em round," snarled an attendant.

Sky's cameras, or rather their absence, has been a point of contention in these parts. Despite reaching Finals Day twice in the previous three seasons and starting the 2016 campaign with a bang, this quarter-final was only their third televised match of the season.

Originally scheduled for just one - at home against Birmingham Bears - a second came due to a last minute switch, when Yorkshire Vikings needed a win to guarantee a quarter-final spot (or at least that was the Northants slant). It did not take long in this broadcast for viewers to figure out what happens next.

Malan, who rattled off an unbeaten 185 off 126 balls for the England Lions in his last innings at Wantage Road, was dismissed for a two-ball duck by Rory Kleinveldt, before Nick Gubbins followed in a similar manner to Richard Gleeson to reduce Middlesex to 10 for 2 in the second over. As a pair, it Kleinveldt and Gleeson's opening spell, hitting just back of a length with all they could, that scuppered Middlesex's chances of posting a competitive total.

Paul Stirling's natural instincts were reined in and, when he departed, thoughts turned to George Bailey, who they restricted to a run-a-ball 46, for Gleeson's second wicket of the innings. Legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna's 2 for 20 from his four in the middle of the innings - accounting for Stirling and the destructive John Simpson for eight - and regular bowling changes eventually saw Middlesex stumble to 132.

It meant that when pressure was built during the opening six overs of Northants' innings, through dot balls and a packed and expectant off side, it was easily relieved with a six over midwicket from Richard Levi, an exquisite swing into the stand at extra cover from Rossington or consecutive fours muscled down the ground by Josh Cobb.

If there was one moment that might have turned the game, it was when Ben Duckett, Northants' leading T20 Blast run-scorer, was dropped on three after driving aerially to Gubbins stationed at cover to Nathan Sowter, at the end of the eighth over. It was hit low and hard to Gubbins' right and, given the measly target, the quality of the batsman and the importance of the match, it simply had to be taken.

With the first ball of the very next over, Duckett stepped down and flicked James Franklin over midwicket for four to bring up 2,000 runs in all competitions. He would go on to make 29 in a 58-run partnership with Rossington that effectively sealed Northants' passage to their fourth Finals Day.

Given the uncertainty that exists at the club, that is a remarkable feat. Middlesex were shorn of Brendon McCullum, Eoin Morgan and James Fuller through injury. But Northants, too, have had a plethora of ailments to such an extent that they have spent as much time at a nearby sports therapy clinic as they have in the nets recently. That they have only used 16 players this season is remarkable. "We don't have any more than that," remarked Northants skipper Alex Wakely.

No doubt some will insist on labelling them as "outsiders" in the lead-up to Edgbaston. But this will be their third appearance at Finals Day in the last four years, winning the competition in 2013 and finishing runners-up in last year's showpiece. That is far beyond the work of "underdogs". That's what you call pedigree.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport