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RESULT
2nd Quarter-Final (N), Nottingham, August 25, 2021, Vitality Blast
(19.4/20 ov, T:126) 123

Hampshire won by 2 runs

Player Of The Match
3/24
liam-dawson
Report

Hampshire hold their nerve to win two-run thriller after Tom Prest impresses

Notts go from 66 for 1 to 123 all out as defending champions are scuppered on worn pitch

David Hopps
David Hopps
25-Aug-2021
Liam Dawson celebrates taking the wicket of Samit Patel, Nottinghamshire vs Hampshire, Vitality Blast quarter-final, Trent Bridge, August 25, 2021

Liam Dawson celebrates taking the wicket of Samit Patel  •  Getty Images

Hampshire 125 for 9 (Prest 44, Paterson 3-22) beat Nottinghamshire 123 (Clarke 42, Dawson 3-24) by two runs
No side has ever successfully defended the domestic T20 title and so it proved once more as Notts Outlaws fell two runs short in an extraordinary low-scoring match before more than 14,000 stunned supporters at Trent Bridge.
Notts, all-powerful, strutting Notts, masters of all they survey at Trent Bridge, playing their 10th home quarter-final in 12 years, failed to chase down a target of 126 despite being more than halfway there with only one wicket down. It was a well-used surface - by necessity not design, such is the demand on international squares these days - but even allowing for that Hampshire's escape act was quite spectacular.
The most pressing question in this Blast quarter-final was which Hampshire would turn up? The one that foundered at the bottom of South Group for much of the summer or the side that won their last five matches - finishing by chasing a target of 185 in 14.1 overs - to squeeze into the last eight on run rate?
The answer appeared to be eminently clear: it was the lame version. Presented with a gripping, fortnight-old surface, which was far removed from the run-fest pitches that have been an established feature of Trent Bridge T20 nights over the years, they were awash with doubt. This appeared to be the Hampshire which became used to defeat until James Vince, their one English batter of true quality, ran into a rich vein of form.
Okay, so Tom Prest, an 18-year-old in his first season, had assembled a cogent response with 44 from 34 balls, and James Fuller had also offered up some lusty blows in his 30. But Hampshire's 125 for 9 felt impoverished, especially when Notts raced to 66 for 1 by the eighth over with Joe Clarke producing the most elegant innings of the night.
How wrong that proved to be. Hampshire's resilience came to the fore yet again as Notts batters were unable to adapt to the demands of a holding pitch and the left-arm spin of Liam Dawson, in particular, became a tough proposition. The final over came down to three needed with the final pair at the crease. Matt Carter had bulldozed two sixes off the penultimate over, from Chris Wood, to put Notts one blow away from victory, but the last man, Dane Paterson, was on strike against Brad Wheal. Paterson failed to find a single from the first three balls - Vince fumbled a chance to run out Carter at the non-striker's end when he was sent back on the second ball of the over - and then Paterson nicked a drive to the keeper to spark Hampshire celebrations.
Notts have lost only three of those home quarter-finals - and Hampshire, the victors on each occasion, can now add 2021 to 2012 and 2014.
Steven Mullaney, Notts captain, has stood in gamely for the Australian Dan Christian all season, and he knew this had got away. "It was a total we should definitely have chased down," he said. "We knew the pitch was used. There has been a lot of cricket here this year, whether it be the Hundred or internationally, but that was well under par. I thought this was a 150-160 pitch."
Vince, his opposite number, said: "After seven or eight overs it was looking a mile off, but all season we have found a way to come back and this was no different. It was an immense effort."
Notts' start showed few inhibitions. Alex Hales plonked Dawson's slow left-arm to long-on, but even when Ben Duckett was run out - beaten by Fuller's direct hit from mid-off as he failed to negotiate a way round the bowler, Scott Currie, approaching him like a learner driver to a roundabout - it did not raise alarms. But Tom Moores, a most unsubtle of batters, was lbw swinging to leg as Mason Crane turned a legspinner, and then Dawson struck twice in two balls to leave Notts 85 for 5: Clarke falling for 42 to a leading edge, Samit Patel creeping out of his crease to be stumped down the leg side.
After Joe Weatherley snapped up an excellent catch at backward square to remove Ben Slater, Notts again lost two in two, this time to Currie, as Calvin Harrison and Mullaney both lacked the muscle to clear the leg-side boundary. When you're in a pickle, call for a couple of big fellas, piano moving, ditch digging and baling out innings a speciality, and Notts were down to that in the shape of Carter and Luke Fletcher. But Fletcher lost his leg stump and Carter lost the strike which turned out to be just as costly.
A nerve-jangling finish disguised the fact that after the glitz of the Hundred, for much of the night, for all the growing tension, this was not the sort of contest the Blast needed if it is to catch the wave.
"The innocence has been exhausted. I think we've lost the ability to be blown away by music." So said Brian Wilson, the American singer-songwriter and record producer, co-founder of the Beach Boys.
The warning holds not just for music, but for cricket, where the innocence is not exhausted, just the pitches, as the output grows ever larger. Squares at the major grounds are under considerable strain, especially from TV which demands central pitches that are in line with the camera gantry.
As they have all season, Notts' trio of spinners - Harrison, Carter and Patel - held sway, their return of 5 for 70 in 12 overs continuing the dominance that sees them finish with a collective 54 wickets this season.
Vince made 9, top-edging a sweep against Patel to short fine leg, his first stroke of intent. D'Arcy Short, his opening partner, and also potentially destructive, perished to his first attacking shot, too, a loose ball from Dane Paterson which he clouted to short midwicket.
Joe Weatherley was another batter to fall to a top-edged sweep, this time against Carter. When Hampshire finally did get some pace on the ball, it turned out to be Harrison's quicker ball, which rocketed into Lewis McManus' stumps; he might have been lbw to the ball before. Dawson patted back a return catch to Harrison, first ball. The match looked as good as over.
Fuller awoke Hampshire's innings, using his feet to drive Harrison and slog-sweeping Steven Mullaney for six. Prest, who had worked the ball around with a maturity that belied his years, departed in a burst of activity: a splay-legged straight six against Paterson, a simple drop by Hales at long on, and a catch by Harrison as he struck a full toss to deep square. It appeared to be a young player making his mark in a losing cause. Nobody imagined that he had just played a match-defining innings. He should now get chance to play another - because it is Hampshire who are going to Finals Day.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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Vitality Blast

North Group
TEAMMWLPTNRR
NOTTS1492211.503
YORKS1375150.305
LANCS1475160.205
BEARS1476150.006
WORCS146614-0.629
LEICS146812-0.019
DURH145811-0.228
DERBS12479-0.326
NHNTS13489-0.871
South Group
TEAMMWLPTNRR
KENT1494190.657
SOM1484180.371
SUSS1463170.479
HANTS1465150.388
SUR1465150.332
GLOUC1466140.201
ESSEX145811-0.468
MIDDX14499-0.389
GLAM14398-1.371