There was an air of anticipation even before the game began that a 5.30pm start wasn’t the wisest of decisions given the weather forecast and so it proved. Given the tv commitments an early start must have been beyond the realm of possibilities and the price of what must have will linger on amongst a packed crowd that nestled into New Road to watch New Road host its first quarter-final since the competition’s inception.
None of this can take away the brilliance of James Vince, who on the way to his maiden T20 hundred (107 not out off 65 balls) ensured that Worcestershire would have to do something special to deny his side a sixth consecutive trip to Finals Day. He was in full throttle from the outset, after Daryl Mitchell put Hampshire in probably having a slight guise into Duckworth & Lewis coming into play later in the game.
It did, and left the Rapids short by 17 runs at the cut off point of 8.1 overs when umpires Rob Bailey and Tim Robinson had no option but take the players off after Chris Wood lost the ball in the growling sky attempting to catch a skier. Rapids’ hopes of chasing 196 hinged mainly on the start Moeen Ali could supply but he top edged a Wood delivery which ended in backpedalling Adam Wheater’s hands. Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s expedition into finding his usual fifth gear failed to evolve and after 12 balls of insolvency Wood ran him out for 9.
Ross Whiteley was sent in to kick start a fading chase and he did so by slamming Liam Dawson down the ground for two sixes. But it was too little too late.
Earlier, Vince found good rapport from Michael Carberry as they compiled 88 runs for the first wicket. Carberry (42 off 28 balls) wasn’t at his fluent best but maintained the run-rate and put the bad offerings away in clinical fashion. Then Wheater joined Vince for another 75 run partnership and when Joe Leach dismissed him it was set up for Vince to unleash the final assault. Vince’s innings consisted of 13 fours and three sixes and at 196/4 most would have fancied Hampshire’s chances.
But the fact it had to come in a curtailed finish was the only dampener of an evening when Vince paraded his determination to keep the streak going. Only if his counterpart Mitchell wasn’t left with a what if as he watched his dream of a long awaited Finals Day desert him once again in the lickety-split cloudy sky.