Ingram stars to take Glamorgan to first Finals Day since 2004
The South Group is striking back. Last year, all four teams at Finals Day were northern. But Hampshire have won away, and now Glamorgan have beaten Leicestershire at home
Glamorgan 126 for 1 (Ingram 70*, Rudolph 46*) beat Leicestershire 123 (Meschede 3-17) by nine wickets
The South Group is striking back. Last year, all four teams at Finals Day were northern. But Hampshire have won away, and now Glamorgan have beaten Leicestershire at home. Both have been drubbings (this one by nine wickets and with 38 balls to spare), and the South Group has more teams at 2017's Finals Day than it had at the previous two combined. Glamorgan are there for the first time since 2004.
If this was a victory forged - through the all-round skills of Colin Ingram, the bowling of Craig Meschede and Marchant de Lange, and the batting of Jacques Rudolph - in South Africa, it was all about home advantage. Welsh rain may have meant Glamorgan have barely played in the Blast at Cardiff this summer, but they clearly know what they are doing there, and were raucously supported too. With the ball, when pace off was required, they took pace off. With the bat, when patience was required, patience was found. Unlike their opponents, they missed little in the field.
Leicestershire's batting is top heavy, and their start was sprightly. Cameron Delport was yorked brilliantly by de Lange and Luke Ronchi swung hand, with a lovely six down the ground off Michael Hogan, until he was castled by Graham Wagg. Still, they made it out of the Powerplay with a base at 57 for 2.
Trouble was that 10 overs on, and they had lost seven more wickets for the addition of just 43 runs, and were resigned to trying to eke every last run out of the remaining four overs. If Gavin Griffiths and Callum Parkinson are batting for your team in a T20, the news will seldom be good, but they hauled Leicestershire to the final over and 123, including a memorable six for Griffiths - the first of his career - off Hogan.
Where did it all go wrong, then? Glamorgan, through Meschede's canny variations and Ingram's loopy leggies, took the pace right off, and encouraged Leicestershire to seek the long square boundaries. Alas, they could not.
Meschede, with the keeper up, accounted for the two post-Powerplay wickets, Colin Ackermann holing out then Mark Cosgrove chopping on at the end of the ninth over. The singles soon dried up and Aadil Ali was run out looking for a second that was never there, then Ned Eckersley miscued a cutter from Meschede, who ended with 3 for 17, to short third man.
Ingram played his part, too. Adelaide Strikers knew they were signing the fearsome hitter seen later on in the evening, but did they know about this very handy string to his bow? He found 12 dots, cost just 19 and forced Tom Wells to plop one straight back to him in his final over. He may be no Don Shepherd, whose joyous life was celebrated with a minute's silence before play, but Ingram knows how to slip his way through four overs. It goes without saying that this was a night Shepherd would have enjoyed greatly.
The rest had not done much batting this season for a Leicestershire side dependent on its fine top four, and it showed. De Lange returned to bounce out Matt Pillans, while McKay fell to Hogan, trying to clear the long boundary.
A target of 124 meant Glamorgan had time on their sides, especially when McKay - the tournament's top wicket-taker - dismissed Aneurin Donald, caught at mid-off, in his first over. They had just 11 from three overs, without a boundary.
Ingram is too good to get bogged down, though. He pulled Ali for four behind square, then drove him for four more over extra cover. Griffiths' first ball was hoicked for six, then Pillans was edged for four the ball after Rudolph had been shelled at backward point. He ended the Powerplay with 25 of their 37 for 1, and he was dropped at short third man by McKay next ball. He is too good to drop too, and later that over he drilled down the ground for his 27th six of the season, taking him top of the charts.
Soon enough Rudolph was feasting too, and by halfway Glamorgan were just 46 away. Leicestershire were increasingly ragged, and had learnt little from Glamorgan's superb bowling, summed up by Ingram sealing the victory with two more sixes and two more fours from Tom Wells' wild first over. As Ingram and Rudolph cruised home, another South African, David Miller, sat in the dugout unused, having dashed in from Potchefstroom. Save your legs, Davey, you're off to Edgbaston.
Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp